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Seafloor wine ageing aims to boost economy in Japan

A Toyko-based PR firm has begun a seafloor wine ageing project in the hopes that it will revive the local economy in the Kagoshima Prefecture of Japan.

The underwater ageing, called the tlass sea cellar, has seen bottles placed on the seabed off Amami-Oshima Island. Around 500 bottles of European wine have been placed into stainless steel cages to a depth of 20 metres last month.

Last year, the firm opened a restaurant in a nearby town to sell wine as well.

Bottles will remain in the sea until June and then be served to customers from July, although some will be aged for longer to discover the right level of maturation.

Last November, Kenichi Otsuka MW, who is also IWC Sake co-chairman, assisted in a survey on the wine quality of a trial of the underwater wine, with suggestions for upgrading the process.


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The company also plans to provide an underwater aging service in the future.

Although the practice of underwater ageing is popular around the world, with the cool conditions, higher pressure and relatively low light providing good opportunities for maturation, the concept is yet to take off in Japan.

Yuri Moritani, who is president of III Three PR who began the project said the most significant challenge would be whether the wine made it through the summer months in the warmer water.

He also hopes it will have sustainability and biodiversity benefits, as the cellar will act as an artificial reef, attracting fish and other associated sealife, and will then also absorb carbon dioxide as a result.

Across the world

Numerous producers have attempted underwater ageing with a number of success stories. In 2021, Argentinian winery Wapisa revealed the “stunning” results of its nine-month underwater wine ageing experiment, after becoming first in the country to embrace the trend.

In the UK, Hampshire-based Exton Park joined the trend of underwater wine ageing last year, releasing a sea-aged sparkling wine and becoming the first winery in the UK to do so.

In 2018, Champagne Drappier unveiled its ‘Immersion’ project in Hong Kong, with Michel Drappier stating that the “perfect conditions” achieved underwater help to slow down ageing, similar to cooking meat by poaching rather than pan-frying.

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