An unusual experiment is taking place right here in Charleston Harbor. Mira Winery of Napa Valley, CA, submerged four cases of 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon to test the effects of “ocean aging.” The bottles were treated with additional wax seals and placed in specially designed steel mesh cages that allow the water to circulate around the bottles. The wines are in an unspecified location (of course) and will be left underwater for three months. Charleston Harbor was chosen as the site for this exercise because Mira owner, Dim Dyke, has roots in Charleston and considers the city “home.”
Although believed to be the first experiment of this type in the Unites States, the idea of ocean aging is not all that new. Wines recovered from shipwrecks have been thought to have uniquely good flavors that may be attributed to submersion in ocean waters.
Gustavo Gonzales is the esteemed wine maker at Mira who conceived the idea. The wines that have undergone aqua aging will be compared side by side with the same vintage that has been aging for the same amount of time within a California warehouse at 59 degrees F. and 75 percent humidity. In addition to taste testing, chemical tests will be performed to determine differences between the aqua aged and traditionally aged wines. Mr. Gonzales will be assessing the effects of water temperature, pressure, and the bottles swaying as a result of movement of the water.
The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon normally retails for about $52. The aqua aged bottles will sell for about $130. Pending the results of this experiment, Mira says it plans to submerge additional bottles, perhaps for an extended period of time. Who knows? An entirely new wine making technique may be at hand. We all know about terroir – now Aquaoir!
If you are interested in learning about the results, stay tuned for news out of Mira. The bottles will be retrieved in May.