Sure, nobody flies to the Maledives just for a wine tasting. But here on Gili Lankanfushi, since they like getting it on with chocolate, which we know is not that partial to heat, they do have a cellar. That being the case, of course, there’s no reason not to lay in some wine as well.
With barely repressed pride, sommelier Rohan presents his wine selection down here and combines it expertly with products made from the cocoa bean: to go with the select wine, he recommends for us chocolate with passionfruit or chili pepper or sea salt and the like. His selections really can’t be beat, and what his patissier colleagues conjure up just so absolutely lives up to Swiss chocolate standards.
The wine cellar, let it be said, is not your grandfather’s idea of one: While a few stairs do lead down into the sand, they end in a room flooded by light from skylights. The room is all organic shapes that are repeated in the wine racks and the extraordinary table with its chairs. In fact, the only straight lines appear to be the shelves on which repose the bottles!
Oh, and besides the chocolate, they also do lay in wine here…
Wine selection and tasting
The wine selection is self-consciously global. Since the Maldives must import most products, why not also a select few bottles of wine? For his Wine & Chocolate tasting, sommelier Rohan starts us off with a white “Honeymoon” Parés Balta from Spain and complements it with the passion fruit chocolate we had encountered earlier. Truly, a seductive combination!
Without missing a beat, he switches to a red, a Whitecliff Pinot Noir from New Zealand, followed by a relatively young Barossa Valley Australian: Château Tanunda Grand Barossa Shiraz, a surprisingly good, medium-bodied wine from the land down under.
We finished up with an Italian dessert wine (Recioto della Valpolicella) as well as a port that also goes over wonderfully with the dark chocolate.
Lest I forget… On Gili Lankanfushi you indulge yourself according to the motto “no shoes, no news” (you ditch your shoes on arrival and only put them back on when you leave the island). So it was with some trepidation that we faced the thought of getting cold feet in a cellar a bit on the cool side. But even here the designers of this island paradise paid attention: so that those partial to epicurean delights don’t get cold toes, pre-warmed footrests (make that hot water bottles) are provided on which to toast those unshod feet. Is that hot or what?