US winery experiments with ocean ageing

Mira Winery in St. Helena, California, has submerged four cases of 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, to see if the ocean affects how the wine ages.

Cages of Mira Cabernet 2009 about to be submerged

Cages of Mira Cabernet 2009 about to be submerged

According to The Associated Press, the bottles were fitted with additional wax seals, placed in yellow steel mesh cages and then submerged offshore in an undisclosed location.

The cages were chained together and equipped with GPS tracking devices.

The wine will resurface in three months and will be chemically tested and tasted by experts to see whether it differs in any way from wine aged on land.

If the trial goes well, Mira could produce and sell ocean-aged wine in the future.

“It’s the beginning of a testing process to see if we can do this in larger quantities for a longer period of time,” owner Jim “Bear” Dyke Jr. told AP.

Dyke and his colleagues expect the water pressure, temperature and gentle swaying from currents to produce unique effects in the wine.

Depending on how the experiment goes, the winery may age some of its 2013 vintage completely in a wine cellar and some of it completely in the ocean.

“This is a very exciting thing for me as a winemaker. When you make wine it’s pretty much the same thing for everybody. The idea is to find out if ocean aging has the potential to change that,” Gustavo Gonzalez, Mira’s winemaker, told AP.

A number of wineries in France, Italy, Spain and Greece have already experimented with underwater-aged wine.

Emmanuel Poirmeur, owner of Egiategia in the French Basque region, began putting his sparkling wine underwater during secondary fermentation in 2007.

Meanwhile, Piero Lugano of Bisson winery on Italy’s Ligurian coast began making spumante underwater in 2009 when he ran out of cellar space.

In June 2011, Bruno Lemoine, director of Château Larrivet Haut-Brion in Péssac-Léognan, chained a 56-litre new oak barrel, dubbed Neptue, filled with a 2009 Merlot-Cabernet blend to an oyster bed in Arcachon Bay for six months.

2 Responses to “US winery experiments with ocean ageing”

  1. In the past large amphora filled with wine were buried in the ground as part of the ageing process in parts of Portugal , I guess this provided constant tempature and insulation against high tempatures , Sometimes wine is aged in bottles within the river douro , though the last one I saw was for sale on the German e- bay site .

  2. Mike Smith says:

    I remember tasting wine that had been stored on my fathers boat for a couple of years next to the same wine that had been in the cellar, and there was a marked difference. The sea aged wine is more advanced (aged) than the land aged sample. Not suprisingly, I believe it to be the gentle rocking motion hastening chemical reactions within the wine. The temperature of the boat would also have played a crucial effect, however in this experiment, the cooler temperature of the ocean may just slow down the effects from the gentle movement of the ocean.
    I don’t think 3 months is sufficient.

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