When discussing wine and spirits, you’ll hear a lot about climate, altitude and terroir. A lot of “land” elements there.
Nobody talks about the ocean much, but that might be changing. As reported by The Drinks Business, Patagonian winery Wapisa has been experimenting with underwater wine aging of 1,500 bottles of a Malbec blend at depths between six and 15 meters off the Atlantic Río Negro coast in the south Atlantic Ocean. As the brand notes, they are the only winery in Argentina to age wines under the sea.
This “coastal terroir” project seems to have produced results. “We were curious to explore if underwater aging could actually allow us to have young wines with the benefit of maturity,” as Patricia Ortiz, the founder of Bodega Tapiz (home to Wapisa), says. “We tasted the underwater-aged wine and the cellar-aged counterparts blind, the difference was stunning: the former was rounder, more elegant and with fresher fruit.” According to the vineyard, one year of aging underwater is equal to three years of aging in a cellar.
Wapisa certainly isn’t the first winery to attempt underwater aging (and some whiskey brands, like Jefferson’s, have done above-water but traveling-on-ship aging, to great results). As Wine Business notes, the trend started in 2010 after divers recovered 170 year-old Champagne bottles from a shipwreck in the Baltic Sea; the wine ended up actually quite good. Besides simply adding a ton of space for aging, underwater maturation has the added benefits of consistent temperature, no negative effects from light or oxygen, plus the unique nature of how underwater pressure and tides could alter the liquid in ways that are less achievable on land.
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