S ilversea is redefining luxury travel on the high seas by catering to a new generation of travelers seeking authentic cultural experiences. That includes guests’ experience on the ships themselves – which are stocked from Silversea’s collection of approximately 160 different wines, curated by sommelier Lawrence d’Almeida, who supplements each voyage with local picks.
Now, Silversea is partnering with Sotheby’s explore the richness of wine – and how wine enriches our world. Join Vanessa Conlin, Master of Wine and Head of Wine Retail at Sotheby’s, on a transcontinental journey of discovery. Over the next few weeks, she’ll toast a glass with fellow wine masters, some of the world’s best wine producers – and even a sake samurai. Tune in below and check back each week for a fresh installment of our new series, A Drink With…
A Drink with Master of Wine Mary Margaret McCamic
A Drink With a Master of Wine
The Institute of Masters of Wine promises a difficult journey, “but not a lonely one.” The three- part path to mastery includes residential seminars followed by a 12-wine blind tasting, then more residencies, a grueling exam and finally a research paper that serves as a kind of thesis. It’s famously one of the most difficult qualifying processes in any industry, let alone the world of wine. So why do it? Mary Margaret McCamic says: “A love of education and the empowerment that comes with that.”
McCamic is one of fewer than 60 Masters of Wine in the United States. “The Master of Wine really is Mount Everest – it’s the highest credential in the world of wine,” she tells Conlin, who shares McCamic’s master credentials. Different from a sommelier, which requires specialized knowledge of the service industry, a Master of Wine also studies law, business and trade in addition to wines and viticulture traditions. The accolade – not to mention her extensive knowledge – has earned McCamic positions representing two of the best wines in the world: Screaming Eagle from Napa Valley, CA, and Bonneau de Martrey from Corton-Charlemagne in Burgundy.
“You can read all you want, but you can’t really fully understand a place unless you’ve been there.”
What does it take to become a Master? Ten thousand hours, of course – but the secret ingredient is travel. All the knowledge in the world can’t compete with lived experience. Nearly 75 countries across the world have substantial wine industries, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, with each possessing a unique alchemy of traditions and terroirs that shape each wine, region by region. For example, says McCamic, “In the Old World, and specifically in Burgundy, the place speaks more than the grape variety.”
Far from an impediment, the massive global scale and rich history of winemaking presents an opportunity for the true lover of wine: it’s an invitation to travel and imbibe. “You can read all you want, but you can’t really fully understand a place unless you’ve been there,” says McCamic. “Whenever I feel out of place – especially if I don’t speak the language – we’ve always said, wine is the universal language. I see that list of Burgundies and I suddenly feel like I’m at home.”
A Drink with Sake Samurai Monica Samuels
A Drink With a Sake Samurai
A Sake Samurai and a Master of Wine walk into a bar…
Meet Monica Samuels, Sake Samurai – yes, there is such thing – who joins us for a tasting session to share her exceptional knowledge of the ancient, complex Japanese rice wine. The youngest of 103 Sake Samurai in the world, Los Angeles-born Samuels is a Certified and Advanced Sake Professional; she has assessed sake for global competitions and is currently a panel chair for the International Wine Challenge’s sake category.
Here, she pours a couple of glasses with Conlin to experience the spectrum and complexity of various sakes – a drink that, despite its seeming simplicity, contains layer upon layer of depth and character. Some sakes have a flowery, fruity temperament; some emanate a deep, smoky allure. Others tantalize the drinker with a dry, crisp presence – ideal for complementing salty or fatty foods.
“People think it’s this one singular beverage and one singular flavor profile, when the reality is there are as many different styles as there are of wine.”
Monica explains how sake can lift and illuminate a meal, away from traditional wine or beer pairings, then offers up some novel serving suggestions that will surprise and delight your taste buds the next time you experiment with the possibilities a good sake can provide.
For those who embody Samuels’ passion for history, exploration and potatory craft, Silversea’s 14-day round trip around Japan (or indeed, a luxury cruise between Yokohama and Bali) invites guests to experience the finest of Japan’s traditional drink, with some of the very best sakes on offer. On board Silver Muse, a stunning ship that services Asia, a curated selection of sakes and other wines – especially those served at the ship’s Kaiseki restaurant – enhance the perfect voyage with a beverage rich in flavorful contrasts and textured with delicate nuances.
A Drink with ‘Flying Winemaker’ Paul Hobbs
A Drink With a Flying Winemaker
With wineries in Europe and the Americas, and in both the northern and southern hemispheres, Paul Hobbs harvests grapes year round. “The British coined a term called ‘flying winemaker’ – someone that flies in, do your thing, and then flies out. You’re not terribly invested,” Hobbs tells Vanessa Conlin. “That misnomer doesn’t adequately reflect how deeply invested you become, wherever you are, with the people, the vineyards and the process.”
With properties in Napa Valley and Sonoma, California, New York’s Finger Lakes region, Argentina, Armenia, southern France and Galicia, in western Spain, Paul Hobbs Winery is quite a geographically diverse producer of wine. Impressively, the wines emphasize their commitment to place. “It’s a lot of fun to travel to new places and to meet people and see their culture – and the how they fit wine into that,” he says over a glass of blended Napa reds.
“Being a winemaker, there’s a great deal of diversity. It’s like seven businesses in one.”
Napa and Sonoma Counties established themselves among the world’s greatest winemaking regions due, in part, to their embrace and blending of global viticulture traditions. And so it’s telling that nearby San Francisco – the Gateway to the West – is the port of call for Silversea’s 132-day world cruise aboard the ship Silver Shadow. A fan favorite, Silver Shadow offers one of the most intimate experiences of Silversea’s fleet, with one of the highest space-to-guest ratios and four elegant restaurants for its 388 passengers. As on every Silversea vessel, Silver Shadow’s cellar is stocked from a collection of 160 wines, including some of the finest wines from California.
A Drink with the Living Legend Lamberto Frescobaldi
A Drink With a Living Legend | Lamberto Frescobaldi
The Frescobaldi family has grown wine in Tuscany for over 30 generations. That’s over 700 years of tradition in the storied winemaking region, prized for its gentle climate protected by mountains and proximity to the sea. Today the family owns 13 estates in Italy, 12 of them in Tuscany.
Over a glass of Sangiovese, the living legend Lamberto Frescobaldi tells Vanessa Conlin: “The great thing about wine is that if it’s done properly and respecting the area where it’s produced, it can tell you a great story. So why not buy a new estate because you want a new story?” Each estate learns from each other – while pushing its peers to grow. If a winemaker relies too much on tradition, Frescobaldi warns, they’ll be consigned to history books. “I’m far more interested in what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
“Sitting around a table, you can actually do a trip around the world. That makes a wine very intriguing.”
Earlier this year, the Frescobaldi family opened its 14th estate – and its first outside of Italy – when it acquired Domaine Roy & fils in Oregon. What drew the Mediterranean winemakers to the Northwest’s cold, semi-arid climate? For one, the Willamette Valley’s favorability to Pinot Noir, a famously finicky grape. For another, Frescobaldi tells Conlin, the family believes it’s important to cultivate cooler regions in the face of global warming.
With over 92 cruises visiting Italy alone, Silversea offers ample opportunity to explore the Mediterranean’s bountiful history. Take, for example, the 21-day voyage from Venice to Barcelona, with stops down the Dalmatian Coast (once part of the Venetian Empire) and up the western coast of Italy. Aboard Silver Moon, guests can experience the luxury cruise line’s S.A.L.T. program, which offers a rich gastronomic experience curated by Adam Sachs of Saveur magazine. Whether it’s in Italy, North America or anywhere in between, on Silversea, you don’t have to own a vineyard to experience the wonder of a region’s story.