Underwater ageing deemed a success

A Californian winemaker involved in testing the effects of underwater ageing has said the 2-year process was successful.

The winery's 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon was aged for two years under water (Photo: Mira Winery)

The winery’s 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon was aged for two years under water (Photo: Mira Winery)

California winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez, of Napa Valley winery Mira, is overseeing the project in which barrel-fermented Cabernet Sauvignon was bottled and then dropped in secure crates into the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of South Carolina, US.

At an event hosted by the winemaker two weeks ago, around 24 guests at The Palm in Orlando, Florida, sampled the wine. Gonzalez said the results of the experiment were both pleasing and fascinating.

“The first wine we brought up was analysed against the same vintage aged on land,” he told The Miami Herald. “Chemically they were identical but there was a distinct difference in the wines’ taste and aroma. The submerged wine had aged nicely with well structured tannins.”

However, a second batch showed that the results were inconsistent, meaning there must be several factors at play, even when submerged underwater.

This second collection showed a younger character, “much like what you get from a young wine still in a barrel,” said Gonzalez.

Along with light and temperature, which are already known to have an effect on wine ageing on-land, Gonzalez is trying to test how the addition of water’s subtle motion and pressure can affect the process.

His tests have been dubbed ‘Aquaoir’ – a play on the term ‘terroir’.

Gonzalez joins several other winemakers from across the world testing out this new frontier in wine production.

It comes after the discovery in 2010 of several bottles of shipwrecked Champagne, dating back to 1839, in the Baltic sea, that have proven to have aged in great condition and are selling at premium prices.

Champagne house Veuve Clicquot, whose Champagne made up the majority of the treasure-trove, are now testing the process under controlled conditions in the freezing Baltic sea.

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