California Winery Ages Wine in Ocean
A winery is aging it's wine where no U.S. bottle has gone before: at the bottom of the ocean.
Mira Winery, based in the Napa Valley, will drop four cases of 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon off the coast of the Charleston, S.C., harbor in specially-designed cages today.
"It was born of the fact that we saw that some European wineries had experiments with both aging wine and storing wine in the ocean which we found interesting," Jim Dyke, president of Mira Winery told ABC News.
Dyke said that no American winery had aged wine like this before. Despite the Napa grapes, the company's roots are in South Carolina and this influenced what ocean they chose.
"We're interested in establishing a process for maybe a larger quantity for a larger length of time going forward," said Dyke. This time, the wine will be aged for three months.
The winemakers took into account four factors when designing the cages that would hold the wine: aging, light, pressure, temperature.
A steel-exterior case was created that would allow a diver access to the wine to remove a single bottle, as well as allow the ocean to be in the cage and really surround the wine.
"What we think is that we might be scratching the surface of 'aquoir,' elements of ocean and weather that age the wine," said Dyke, noting that the temperature in the warehouse was exactly the same as the current temperature of the ocean.
After the wine is taken out of the ocean, chemical tests of the wine will be performed. A number of wine enthusiasts and sommeliers tasted the wine and will do a comparison when the wine has finished aging.
Alice Feiring, wine expert and author of the Feiring Line newsletter, described the ocean-aging process as "more of a curiosity, perhaps is more effort than it can be worth."
No matter the aging process, the cuvée, or blend, always differs in taste.
"There is always some difference in the cuvées, which would make sense as there's different pressure exerted on the bottle. Perhaps they are 'fresher,' as they are raised in a more complete darkness? But you will always have a difference in taste which varies because of storage conditions, " she said.
Created in 2012 by grape-grower Larry Hyde and wine-maker Gustavo Gonzalez, Mira Winery distributes to restaurants in California, South Carolina and Washington D.C. Gonzalez is one of about 40 winemakers to have ever made a 100-point wine.
The wine is expected to sell between $130-150 per bottle.