An Englishman working in Chile has launched what is believed to be the first wine aged with a meteorite formed during the birth of the solar system.
Norwich-born Ian Hutcheon has released a Cabernet Sauvignon called Meteorito, aged with a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite from the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter.
The extra-terrestrial wine was created at Hutcheon’s Tremonte Vineyard in the Cachapoal Valley in Chile, which he bought in 2009.
“I’ve been involved in wines and astronomy for many, many years and I wanted to find some way of combining the two,” Hutcheon said.
“When you drink this wine, you are drinking elements from the birth of the solar system,” he added.
Belonging to an American collector, the three-inch meteorite is believed to have crashed into the Atacama Desert in northern Chile around 6,000 years ago.
“The idea behind submerging it in wine was to give everybody the opportunity to touch something from space; the very history of the solar system, and feel it via a grand wine,” Hutcheon said.
In April 2010, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were picked from Hutcheon’s mountain vineyard, planted on an old gold mine 100km south-west of Chile’s capital Santiago.
The fruit was then fermented for 25 days, before undergoing malolactic fermentation for 12 months – it was during this process that the wine was held in a wooden barrel with the meteorite, before being blended with another batch of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Hutcheon believes the meteorite gives the wine a “livelier taste”.
Meteorito is currently only sold at the Centro Astronomico Tagua Tagua – an observatory launched by Hutcheon in 2007, but the winemaker is keen to export it to other countries, including the UK.
Around 10,000 litres of the meteor-aged wine have been made.
In 2013 the Centro Astronomico Tagua Tagua will host the International Astronomy Congress.