Saturday, January 5, 2013

Captain Andy Sunset Wine Cruise

A sunset cruise around the garden isle of Kauai sounds like a no-brainer. Who wouldn’t want to go? But there are sunset cruises and then there is the one Captain Andy sails aboard the Southern Star that navigates the Na’Pali coast. This is the Cadillac of sunset cruises for many reasons.

The Southern Star is a 65 foot catamaran with its own chef’s kitchen, wide bar in the main cabin, and generous room for the passengers to enjoy the run of the boat. The food prepared and served on board by executive chef Stephen. The cuisine is what one might expect from a fine restaurant, but with unparalleled views of one of the most stunning coasts in the world; the Na’Pali coast. 

Sheer walls of verdant green, jagged cliffs and lush valleys are interspersed with towering waterfalls that descend thousands of feet to hidden pools and streams. The cry of sea birds blends with surging surf crashing against the jumbled rocks below.

Unfortunately for us, this time the sea was too rough to follow the north coast, so Captain Rick advised us he’d have to track the southern coast. He asked, “Did we still want to go?” We were still on for the cruise, knowing it was our safety and comfort uppermost in his mind. I also knew from previous cruises that the wine would be good and the Mai Tai and Sneaky Tiki cocktails would be strong and authentic. 

Once onboard I enjoyed my Mai Tai with fresh pineapple and salt spray at the fantail, um, correction, my first Mai Tai. I decided not to compound things by trying the Sneaky Tiki, but checked out the wines they had at the bar. I sampled a few and decided we were in for a good time.

The Caesar and Island salads went quite well with the Talbott Logan Chardonnay, which was from Sleepy Hollow vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands, a premier wine region in California. A nice balance between French Oak and stainless brings out the richness in the grape without bludgeoning it. The melon, pear and pineapple would seem to be custom-made for an island cruise, and it often earns 90 points from wine specialists. We were off to a good start.

The dinner was excellent; NY Strip from beef on the Big Island, sliced potato and taro root, asparagus and carrots and big, flavorful prawns. A classic surf and turf, made all the better with a Kali Hart 2007 Pinot Noir from the Monterey coast. This one is also from Talbott Winery, which has a way of making mid-priced wines taste like high-priced and this Pinot was no exception.

Aged in French oak for 9 months it exhibits flavors of red current and red berry with plumy notes. The vanilla flavors and oak are nicely integrated assuring easy drinking and made to handle the shrimp and beef. I confess I indulged a lot, but I’m blaming it on the sea air, great views and wonderful food and wine pairing. 

If this sounds like your kind of cruise, one bit of advice: reserve early. A sunset cruise this good fills up early and you don’t want to left on shore when Captain Andy sets sail. Aloha!

No comments: