Rack of wine

Q&A with Keith Isaac, Master of Wines

International master of wines creates an enviable wine list for Scenic Eclipse 

In keeping with its ultra-luxury positioning, Scenic commissioned the services of renowned Master of Wines, Keith Isaac, to create a wine list representing the finest wines from around the world for Scenic Eclipse.

“Fine dining and quality wines are an integral part of the Scenic experience – for both our river and our ocean cruising products”, said Mr Glen Moroney Founder and Chairman the Scenic Group. “Our guests have a passion for and a knowledge of quality wines, and it was essential that we were able to offer a selection of wines that represented both a diversity of regions and a diversity of styles, and one that exemplified our core brand offering”.

One of only 400 Master of Wines around the world, Keith Isaac, worked with the Scenic team to create a wine list that would be representative of quality, that would appeal to the global traveller and that would complement the Scenic Eclipse experience.

“With “Discovery” being part of the mission statement of the ship we picked this up as a theme of the wine list”, said Mr Isaac. “We hope the guests on board will love their journey of discovery of some of the less familiar, “off the wall” European whites like the Eidos de Padriñán Albariño and the Terra do Lobo Godello from Spain, or the Crazy Creatures Grüner Veltliner from Austria.

Our wine selection has been designed to reflect the regions through which Scenic Eclipse will travel. For example, when the ship is in Antarctica there is a Cabernet Franc from Mendoza in Argentina and a Syrah from Limarí in Chile to give a regional feel to the list. Amongst the champagnes being poured is a 1er Cru from Lombard and a Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs from Autréau, as well as the Palmes d’Or 2006 from Nicolas Feuillatte.

“We hope the guests will be impressed with the first wines they try, by the range and quality on offer, and excited to taste the rest! We have tried to strike a balance of “wow factor” wines they will be surprised to see offered as part Scenic’s all-inclusive commitment, with some lesser known varieties from all sorts of places, “he said.

Featuring eight spacious bars and lounges Scenic Eclipse offers a world of choice. Sip a glass of France’s finest at Lumière’s intimate Champagne bar, indulge in an aged single malt at the elegant Scenic Lounge Bar or unwind in the Observation Lounge with a specialty tea or coffee. Complimentary beverages are part of our signature all-inclusive promise.

Scenic Eclipse Azure bar

Keith Isaac, Master of Wine


Q&A with Keith Isaac

What does it take to become a Master of Wines?

It takes many years of study. Some of this, the tasting part, is fun; some is a question of hours in libraries and a re-learning of how to write essays under exam conditions; some again visiting vineyards and wineries, and getting to know winemakers, vineyard managers and marketeers.

How do you go about selecting wines/champagne for a 6 star luxury vessel of this kind? What was your brief?

We drew on our experience in buying for airlines for many years and for other top-end cruise ships, and then set out to create a pouring program that was at least comparable in quality to the best we had seen. We were lucky to be given a clean sheet of paper and asked to come up with ideas that would set the Scenic Eclipse experience apart.

How many wines and champagnes are on the list for the vessel?

There are 50 wines in total on the pouring program, and these differ for each of the main restaurants depending on the cuisine. In addition, there is a “Chairman’s Cellar” – a selection of the finest and rarest wines, including first and second growth clarets from the top years back to 1995, Penfold’s Grange, some other de luxe cuvee champagnes. These are for sale if a guest wants to celebrate for a birthday or anniversary.

What are your personal favourites?

So much choice, so little time! I love the Lucienne Smith Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016 from St Lucia Highlands in California. The Chateau Batailley 2012, Pauillac, on the Chef’s Table list is delicious. Then for everyday lunchtime in the Yacht Club the Barbebelle Rosé Fleuri from Provence is great.