July 26, 2013-Mira Winery of St. Helena has created a buzz in the wine world with their experiment of ocean aging four cases of Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2009 vintage. The wine was submerged in 60 feet of water in Charleston Harbor for three months. Phase two of the project will happen this fall when the 2011 vintage is bottled. Eight cases with no land aging at all will be immediately submerged for six months.
This is not the first time wine has been left in the ocean to age but it appears to be the first time anyone has conducted a systematic analysis of ocean aging. There have been many instances of wine being recovered from old shipwrecks and found to be in excellent condition. Mira’s program will explore the ameliorating effects of the ocean’s temperature, pressure, humidity, light and movement on the aging process.
The submerged wine was retrieved in May and tasted blind against the land aged wine from the 2009 vintage by Mira’s winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez, other partners in Mira Winery, and Patrick Emerson, a sommelier in Charleston. Mr. Emerson commented, “something magical has happened with Aquaoir”. (The name Aquaoir is a clever play on the French word “terroir” which denotes the sense of place and identity that differentiates vineyards, regions, etc.)
Wine Club members as well as the press were invited to listen in on a tasting conversation between Gonzalez, Emerson and Jim “Bear” Duke Jr., one of the winery owners who lives in Charleston. The submerged wines were described as “remarkably different” having aged more with smoother tannins and texture than the control wine of the same vintage aged on land. All the tasters were amazed at the difference in just three months. To listen to the conversation go here http://miranapa.com/listen-to-the-aquaoir-taste-test/.
The ocean-aged wine was shipped to California for analysis. Twelve bottles were made available to Wine Club members July 1. Packaged with a bottle of the regular land aged 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon for $500, it immediately sold out.