Domaine Mas Amiel & leading sommelier visit Mauritius

Guests at Constance Belle Mare Plage had the rare opportunity to enjoy a wine dinner inspired by two giants in the French wine industry last week.

The Blue Penny Cafe at Constance Belle Mare Plage

The Blue Penny Cafe at Constance Belle Mare Plage

The dinner, held at Belle Mare Plage’s Blue Penny Café on 8 August, featured wine selected by special guests winemaker Nicolas Raffy of Domaine Mas Amiel and David Biraud, awarded best sommelier in France.

Nicolas Raffy is the winemaker behind the legendary Mas Amiel wines of the Roussillon region while David Biraud has won accolades as the best sommelier in France and narrowly missed out on the title of Best Sommelier in Europe.

These two prestigious wine experts worked together with our chefs at the Blue Penny Café to create a menu to bring out the very best in the wines they selected.

Highlights of the wine menu included:

  • Ocean cassolette with lemon foam served with a Côtes du Roussillon Mas Amiel Le Plaisir Blanc 2013
  • Drumfish fillet lacquered with aniseed jus, citrus marmalade with taggiasche olives and steamed baby leeks served with Côtes du Roussillon Mas Amiel Altair Blanc 2011
  • Pan seared beef fillet, Macaire potato with condiments and onion flavoured with Xérès vinegar and thyme jus served with Maury Sec Mas Amiel Altitude 433 M 2012
  • Biscuit with ‘Kumabo’ chocolate with red and black fruit nectar served with Maury Mas Amiel Charles Dupuy 2008.

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Wine recommendations from Constance Halaveli

Constance Halaveli boasts a wine list to rival many European Michelin-starred restaurants and head sommelier Florian David is rightly proud of the extensive wine cellar that features some of the world’s best wines.

Wine recommendations from Constance Halaveli

Wine recommendations from Constance Halaveli

With more than a thousand fine wines mainly from Europe, South Africa and New Zealand, Florian considers that Halaveli has the best selection of wines in the Maldives.

One of the things which makes Halaveli’s selection so unique is that many of the wines are sourced from the winemakers directly by our sommeliers.

Our teams visit vineyards across the new and old world to search out the very best wines from traditional as well as innovative new winemakers.

Florian’s top wine recommendations

Of all the fine wines in our cellar, here are Florian’s top recommendations.

Florian says, ‘We at Halaveli have the best winemakers from France.’

  • De Montille – the lively legend of Volnay and Pommard
  • Raveneau – the king of Chablis
  • Lucien Lemoine – one of the most talented Burgundian winemaker of the past 10 years
  • La Grange des Peres – the most elegant of all the Languedoc wines
  • Domaine de Trevallon – the ultimate proof that there is great wine in Provence

‘We also have the very best vintage of the grand Bordeaux wines.’

  • Pauillac, Château Lynch Bages, 5th Cru Classé 1990 – the best vintage of the past 30 years
  • Pauillac, Château Pichon Baron Longueville, 2nd Cru Classé 1989 – less famous than 1990 but beautifully well-balanced
  • Margaux, Château Margaux, 1st Cru Classé 1990 – simply a legend
  • Bordeaux, Château La Mission Haut-Brion 1945 – the most feminine vintage ever and also the most difficult to find (although not, of course, at Halaveli)
  • Sauternes ‘Creme de Tête’, Château Gilette 1961 – an amazing vintage from an amazing producer

‘To finish, we also have the finest and most exclusive Champagne.’

  • Dom Perignon 2003 and 2004 – the shining star of Champagne
  • Cristal 2005 – the Champagne Tsar
  • Cristal Rose 2005 – probably the most exclusive Rose Champagne
  • Salon 1997 – The Grand Cru of Champagne
  • Billecart Salmon, ‘Clos St Hilaire’, Blanc de Noirs 1998 – a Champagne with a sensitive soul of Pinot Noir

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Head sommelier at Constance Lémuria explores the Syrah grape

With his passion for grapes and wine head sommelier at Constance Lémuria, Cédric Jacob shares his knowledge of the Syrah grape and gives his tips for how to enjoy the wine in the heat of the tropics.

Enjoying wine in the Seychelles

Enjoying wine in the Seychelles

The Syrah grape

With its creation of dark full-bodied red wines, the Syrah grape charms with its dark fruit flavours ranging from sweet blueberry to savoury black olive. Tasting a Syrah wine is like receiving a punch of flavour that tapers off to leave a subtle, spicy, peppery aftertaste.

Syrah tends to give its distinctive kick on the front palate and so it’s often blended with grapes that offer more to the mid-palate. In France, Syrah is traditionally blended with Grenache or Mourvèdre to create the classic Côte du Rhône blend. Some producers also blend it with Cabernet Sauvignon to create a more complete, rounded taste.

My Old World Syrah recommendation

Côte Rôtie, ‘Blonde du Seigneur’, Domaine Georges Vernay, 2011 – France, Rhône Valley

In what has traditionally been a very male dominated industry, Christine Vernay (daughter of Georges) has put her stamp on the French winegrowing industry with this wine. She and her husband Paul Ansellem run this tiny 12ha winery (mostly focusing on Condrieu but with 2.5ha of Côte Rôtie) with fantastic flare.

The cuvee ‘Blonde du Seigneur’ is a Syrah-based wine blended with a small amount of Viognier. The wine presents a fine acidity on the palate as well as lots of blackberries and raspberry flavours, forest fruit and liquorice. It is like a Provencal Garrigue with its subtle peppery notes. Deep in colour this medium to full-bodied wine shows a richness and terrific personality.

Constance Lémuria

Constance Lémuria

Drinking this wine in the Seychelles

Due to the high temperature and humidity I recommend drinking this at 14-16ºC and letting it reach that temperature slowly. It is better to serve this wine directly from the bottle to avoid losing the fresh acidity that contributes to its elegance.

My New World Syrah recommendation

Mullineux, Syrah, 2011 – South Africa, Swartland

I discovered this fantastic wine about 2 years ago on a trip to South Africa. Chris and Andrea Mullineux are at the forefront of the ‘Swartland Revolution’, adopting a minimalist approach to their wines with a particular focus on expressing the terroir, translating the granite and schist soils of Swartland.

This superb Syrah presents notes of black pepper, dark juicy cherries and a hint of smoke. This full-bodied wine offers a silky texture with delicate melted tannins. I am impressed by its long fresh finish with a kick of black pepper.

How to drink this wine in the Seychelles

Again, I suggest drinking this Syrah at around 14-16ºC and letting it reach that temperature slowly. A soft decanting is necessary but done very slowly to avoid losing the freshness of the wine.

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Journey into South African wine country Part 1

At a time when South African wines are soaring to new heights of sophistication, Constance head sommelier Jerome Faure toured the country to seek out the best of this new breed of exciting wines.

Wine country: Enjoying a glass or two with Anthony Hamilton Russell.

Wine country: Enjoying a glass or two with Anthony Hamilton Russell.

Here is Jerome’s diary of discovery around the wine regions of South Africa.

Day 1

I arrived in South Africa with Jerome Carlier, head sommelier at Constance Le Prince Maurice, and Gaetan of Constance Moofushi. Together we visited the Raats Family winery in Stellenbosch for a tasting with Gavin. Raats wines are very famous for their Chenin and Cabernet Franc. We really liked the quality of the Cabernet, it was lively and fruity with soft tannins – I would say one of the top Cabernet Francs in South Africa. The Chenin was beautiful as well.

Later that day we visited the Marianne Estate also in Stellenbosch which has a nice range of wine, especially since the arrival of François, the new winemaker. He has added a fresh touch to the wine with more elegance and less extraction. This is definitely an estate to watch.

Day 2

We visited the Colmant Estate in the Franschhoek Valley. Run by Jean Philippe Colmant, it is a very young winery dedicated to cap classique with a small production of about 45,000 bottles a year. This is definitely one of the best cap classique producers, its sparklings are crisp and balanced with a nice acidity and could certainly be mistaken for champagne in a blind tasting.

Also in the Franschhoek Valley is the famous winery Chamonix where we ventured next. Its range of products are presided over by winemaker Gottfried Mocke. Most people associate Pinotage with South Africa and Chamonix makes one of the best in the region with a nice body and structure, a long finish and beautiful tannins.

Later that day we travelled south to Hamilton Russell Vineyards, one of the most southerly wine estates in Africa, where we had a fantastic night with owners Olive and Anthony tasting 3 top wines. The first was the Chardonnay 89 which slightly oxidises on the nose but overall is very charming with a surprising amount of freshness.

The second wine we tasted was the Pinot Noir 85, the third vintage from Hamilton Russell and an amazing bottle, elegant and silky with a mid-mouth with hints of blackcurrant, black wild fruits and undergrowth aromas balanced by a perfect acidity and smooth tannins. It is a wine ready to drink now but still has ageing potential. The third wine was a Pinot 01, still a young wine despite its 12 years, it has a dark colour with richness, elegance and body. The balance and harmony of the wine could be compared to a Vosne Romanée.

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Gala dinner to celebrate the best New Zealand wines

Join us at Constance Belle Mare Plage for the climax of our New Zealand wines week, a unique gala dinner celebrating the best New Zealand wines.

Blue Penny Café, Constance Belle Mare Plage

Blue Penny Café, Constance Belle Mare Plage

The dinner is to be held at the stylish Blue Penny Café, famous for its sumptuous fine-dining menu and wine cellar, and will feature the wines of all the visiting New Zealand winemakers.

Wine makers from New Zealand

Winemakers visiting Belle Mare Plage and Constance Le Prince Maurice for the celebration of New Zealand wine week include:

  • Felton Road
  • Millton Vineyards and Winery
  • Ata Rengi
  • Escarpment
  • Pegasus Bay

What’s on the menu?

Guests at the resort will have the opportunity to sample an exquisite menu of culinary delights paired with the very best wines from each of the vineyards.

Wine dinners at Constance Belle Mare Plage

Wine dinners at Constance Belle Mare Plage

The menu for the gala dinner will include:

  • Red tuna tartar with kafir lime, carpaccio of scallop with ‘harenka’, goat nougat with apricot paired with Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay 2010
  • Crispy ‘Black Tiger’ prawn tails in kadaïf, fades carrot and green granny Smith balls, acidulated coulis paired with Millton Clos St Anne Chardonnay 2009
  • Pan-seared cod fish fillet, heirloom vegetables and mushroom, chicken gravy scented with Barolo vinegar paired with Felton Road Pinot Noir Calvert 2006
  • ‘Barbaire’ duck fillet, confit turnip and samoussas with giblets, wild Bourbon pepper and cherry paired with Escarpment Pinot Noir 2010
  • Roasted Victoria pineapple style ‘Pina Colada’ paired with Pegasus Bay Aria Lat Picked Riesling 2008

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Female sommeliers in Mauritius are aiming high

Our female sommeliers at Constance Le Prince Maurice and Constance Belle Mare Plage are both striving to become leaders in the predominantly male world of fine wines.

Malin De Lores, assistant sommelier at Belle Mare Plage

Malin De Lores, assistant sommelier at Belle Mare Plage

Constance Belle Mare Plage

Malin De Lores, assistant sommelier at Belle Mare Plage, who attained her wine training at the Constance Hospitality Academy in Mauritius, claims her personal ambition is to become a chief sommelier.

She took a step nearer to her goal last year when she was selected as a finalist in the Best Sommelier of Mauritius 2012 and again this year as the winner of the sommelier competition at the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau. In July Malin was promoted to Assistant Sommelier at Belle Mare Plage.

Constance Le Prince Maurice

Cheryline Coulon, sommelier at Le Prince Maurice, began her career in France before joining Constance. Her ambition is to win the award for Best Sommelier of Mauritius 2014.

Cheryline Coulon, sommelier at Le Prince Maurice

Cheryline Coulon, sommelier at Le Prince Maurice

Cheryline was selected to represent Le Prince Maurice this year in the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau.

We are very proud of both women whose passion for wine and their ability to share that passion with our guests has made them an important part of our team of sommeliers in Mauritius.

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