Last month, the Tortuga Fine Wine & Spirits location at The Greenery shopping plaza on West Bay Road temporarily closed for renovations. When it reopened six days later, it had a new modernized look, similar to its flagship store at Governors Square, and some new wines never before available in Cayman.
“We invested into the Greenery location because the area demands it,” said the company’s president and co-owner, Robert Hamaty. “Set amongst some of the finest condos and hotels in Cayman, both the Greenery and Governors Square locations welcome a solid mix of local customers and visitors to the island.”
Mr. Hamaty said he was not dissuaded from making the investment by online shopping trends.
“While the trend in retail shopping has dramatically turned to online sales, the wine and spirits industry hasn’t been affected,” he said. “People enjoy the liquor shopping experience – meeting people, learning about new products. Shopping for liquor is a personal thing … and when you shop at our newly renovated store, your experience is certainly enhanced.”
Embracing the experiential aspects of wines and spirits marketing, Tortuga has started weekly tastings at both the Greenery and Governors Square stores. Every Thursday, the Greenery location – which originally opened in 1998 – hosts a wine tasting, while the Governors Square store hosts a spirits tasting. On Fridays they switch, with Governors Square doing a wine tasting and the Greenery doing a spirits tasting. At these informal tastings, customers get to sample some of Tortuga’s new products, as well as some of the ones that it has carried for years, in a relaxed social atmosphere.
Wines that Rock
One of the new lines Tortuga sells is called “Wines that Rock,” which touts itself as “The Official Wine of Rock ‘N’ Roll.” Tortuga carries three of the wines in that line, including Woodstock Chardonnay, Rolling Stones “Forty Licks” Merlot and Grateful Dead “Steal Your Face” red wine blend.
The idea of the line is to pair wine with rock music and iconic rock ‘n’ roll imagery.
“We didn’t want to just ‘slap’ cool labels on a bottle and call it a day,” the winery owners state. “We wanted to challenge our winery to produce varietals that were a great tasting, quality product that we could all be proud of … and you would thoroughly enjoy.”
The Woodstock Chardonnay, which uses a tag line of “3 Days of Peace & Music,” is an easy-drinking wine that is typical of the California style of Chardonnay, both oaky and buttery – but not overly so – with tropical fruit flavors.
The Rolling Stones “Forty Licks” Merlot come from grapes grown – as is the case with all of the Wines that Rock wines – in Mendocino County, which is known as California’s leader for producing organically grown wines. Although Wines that Rock isn’t made with organic grapes, its vineyard employs sustainable farming practices and 100 percent solar and wind power, and also boasts eco-friendly packaging and carbon neutrality.
Although primarily made with Merlot, Forty Licks blends in small percentages of Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot to give a well-rounded wine that has rich flavors of plum with hints of spice.
The Grateful Dead “Steal Your Face” red blend is a unique combination of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Grenache, making it very peppery on the palate, but with distinct flavors of dark fruits. It would pair nicely with barbecued meats, burgers, roasts and beef stews.
“This is not your typical California [red] blend,” said Nancy Harrison, Tortuga’s senior sales and marketing representative, referring to the recent trend in California to produce red blends that are very soft and fruity.
All three of the Wines that Rock are priced at $21.99, making them affordable options that also make great presents “for the rock and roller in your life,” Harrison said.
Another partial line Tortuga has started carrying features two Rieslings from the award-winning German winemaker Ernst Loosen, the owner of the Dr. Loosen winery, known particularly for making great value-for-money Rieslings.
“Dr. Loosen is a known product and it’s such a quality product,” said Harrison.
The Loosen Bros “Dr. L” Riesling is a slightly sweet Riesling with good minerality that is made in the classic Mosel style. Because of its sweetness and the fact that it’s low in alcohol content – only 8.5 percent – this is a great wine for those just starting to drink wine. It also offers fantastic pairing with spicy foods, particularly spicy Asian foods.
The other Dr. Loosen wine carried by Tortuga is the Loosen Bros “Dr. L.” Sparking Riesling, which is dry, bright and crisp, making it a good pairing with pretty much any of the seafood coming from the Caribbean. This is a good and surprisingly unique alternative to other sparkling white wines readily available in Cayman, like Prosecco and Cremant.
Harrison said Tortuga will continue to expand its selections.
“Tortuga’s wine and spirit portfolio continues to evolve,” she said. “We invite people to visit both our Greenery and Governors Square locations where we showcase the majority of our wines and our newest products.”
Embracing the experiential aspects of wines and spirits marketing, Tortuga has started weekly tastings at both the Greenery and Governors Square stores.