7 Days, 7 Cities – 1 Great Wine

Aquaoir – from aqua,(“water”) is the interaction between a submerged container of wine and the set of special characteristics that a body of water and its environment hold – temperature, pressure, light (or darkness) and motion.

And so the experiment began in the Spring of 2013.  Mira Winery dropped four cases of their 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon into the Atlantic Ocean just off the Charleston Harbor.  The wine stayed for three months.  Four cases of the same wine were left to age naturally in the bottle at the winery.  The wine was retrieved from the ocean and the tastings, along with the media frenzy, began.

I was fortunate enough to be invited as Mira’s guest to attend a blind tasting of the two wines side by side November 6.  The tasting event kicked off a 7 day tour where Mira was hosting a tasting event in 7 cities.  The tour lineup was:

  • Charleston SC – Nov 6
  • Washington, DC – Nov 7
  • New York, NY – Nov 8
  • Palm Beach, FL  Nov 9
  • Little Rock, AR – Nov 10
  • San Francisco, CA – Nov 11
  • Los Angeles, CA – Nov 12

The setting for the Charleston tasting was at Harborside East and you couldn’t have asked for a more picturesque backdrop for tasting wine

  • Charleston Harbor

    Charleston Harbor

The wine was initially aged in the ocean in an effort to discover a better process for aging wine.  The three-month experiment, by all accounts, was hugely successful.  The experiment was limited to three months to test equipment.  The bottles came out of the water covered with barnacles, but the corks were still securely in place.  Mira has now submerged eight cases in the water and plans to leave them eight months.  The difference in this group of wines is that they were submerged immediately after bottling with no bottle aging prior to submersion.  The labels were etched on the bottles for the new group of wines to avoid having to scrape barnacles off and attach labels after the fact.

Jim "Bear" Dyke

Jim “Bear” Dyke

So what was the result of the three-month aging as compared to regular bottle aging?  Answer: Significant and Amazing!

I have been following this Aquaoir experiment from the beginning.  I had already heard how significantly different the wines tasted.  With the blind tasting, I had no way of knowing which wine was in which glass.  Glass “A” appeared to be a young wine and was very tannic.   It had a great nose with hints of leather and spice.  I picked up licorice on the palate.  I felt like it needed quite a bit more time in the bottle.  Glass “B” didn’t have near as much on the nose, but the flavors were intense dark cherry, plum, and vanilla.  It was more evolved, silky with smooth tannins.  One would never guess that these were the same wine.  Glass “B” had been ocean-aged.  The difference was remarkable.

SIDE NOTE: The last case of the ocean-aged wine goes on sale TODAY.  The first case sold out to wine club members in a few hours.  Word of warning, this wine won’t last long.

So what created the differences in these wines.  As of right now, the science behind testing these wines hasn’t really given any clues.  The chemical analysis consisted primarily of  testing pH, alcohol, volatile acidity and turbidity and comparing the results of the land aged versus the water aged.  There was no significant difference in any of this.  When the wine was submerged, the bottles were at 57°.  The wine was set ay 60′ deep and stayed for three months.  When the wine came up, it was at 72°.  This was completely unexpected and they are not sure why it was so warm.  The warmth could have sped up the aging process, but the results are not conclusive.

The eight cases that have just been submerged will age through the winter months.  Will this make a difference?  Only time will tell.

Could ocean-aging be the answer to the global wine shortage that is being talked about lately in the news?  It is definitely something that should be looked at closely.  Mira is the first US winery to try ocean-aging, but several wineries around the globe have experimented with ocean-aging.

 

Mira Winery Makes History with Aquaoir

Mira Winery Makes History after Successfully Recovering Wine Aged in Charleston Harbor

Taste Test Reveals How Quickly Two Wines Changed Paths

 

Charleston, S.C. (May 22, 2013) – Mira Winery concluded a historic three-month experiment in the Charleston, S.C. Harbor Tuesday, May 21, 2013 when the Napa-based producer of fine wines recovered four cases of its 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from 60 feet below in the Atlantic Ocean. Mira is the first American winery to successfully experiment with aging wine in the ocean.

“There is no doubt that the ocean holds a potential gift to wine,” said Mira Winery President, Jim “Bear” Dyke Jr. “The success of Phase I makes us more committed than ever to going back down in the fall with twice the cages for twice the time.”

In February, Mira Winery began Phase I of its project by submerging cages filled with its wine to test how it would be affected if aged in the ocean, experimenting with the major elements that can affect aging — temperature, humidity, pressure, motion, light – or lack thereof – and oxygen. The experiment follows generations of European wineries that have explored the ocean’s impact on wine.

Mira Winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez, and Communion Wine Club Advanced Sommelier Patrick Emerson first tasted the wine before sharing the results on a conference call with Mira Wine Club Members.

“In full disclosure, I am a big fan of the control wine which was on land,” said Emerson. “I am quite surprised – shocked at how quickly these two wines have changed paths – something magical has happened with Aquaoir. The signature difference might be in the riddling motion of the tides.”

“It’s not better, its not worse and it is definitely different,” said Gustavo Gonzalez. “The land wine is tighter versus Aquaoir aged wine which is more complex and broad, more open and relaxed. The result is proof certain that we have more to learn.”

Mira Winery will share temperature readings and other information from Phase I on its website at miranapa.com/charlestonharbor. Twelve bottles of the wine will be sold via the website exclusively to Wine Club Members, beginning July 1, 2013 on a first come basis.

Mira Winery, launched in September 2012, employs the craftsmanship of Napa Valley 100-point Winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez. Mira’s wine was most recently rated by Wine Enthusiast with the 2010 Pinot Noir receiving 94 points and named “Editors’ Choice” and the 2009 Syrah receiving 92 points. Mira prioritizes craftsmanship over production, yielding handcrafted, small production wines that can be found in fine dining restaurants throughout CA, Charleston, S.C., Palm Beach, FL and Washington, D.C. and at www.miranapa.com.

Open cage of wine retrieved from the ocean

Open cage of wine retrieved from the ocean

first bottle

First bottle retrieved after 3-month Aquaoir aging.

G during taste testing

Gustavo Gonzales

About Mira Winery

Mira Winery produces Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Red Wine, Rose, White Wine, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from some of the most prestigious vineyards in the Napa Valley. Old world tradition meets new world techniques.

Blog Stats

  • 52,242 hits