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Ocean-aged wine is ‘more complex’ says Napa winery

Ageing wine on the ocean floor makes it more complex and open than its land-matured equivalent, according to an experiment by a Napa Valley winery.

The Mira Cabernet was submerged in specially designed cages

Mira Winery claims to be the first producer in the US to conduct experiments into the effects of maturing its wine in the ocean, in the process coining the term ‘aquaoir’ as opposed to ‘terroir’.

Four cases of the St Helena winery’s 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon were submerged in Charleston Harbour, South Carolina, in February this year, with divers taking the wine to a depth of 60 feet in specially designed 12-bottle cages.

Now the bottles have been brought back to the surface and tasted alongside their land-matured equivalent by Mira winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez and Communion Wine Club sommelier Patrick Emerson.

Comparing the two, Emerson said: ‘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, it’s not worse and it is definitely different,’ added 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 was prompted to conduct the experiment by the reportedly positive impact of the ocean on wines recovered from sunken ships, as well as experiments by several European wineries.

The wines recovered from Charleston Harbour have now been sent to California for chemical analysis, before 12 bottles are sold to Mira Winery club members via the company’s website on 1 July.

Mira now plans to expand the experiment, submerging eight cases of wine bottled this autumn for a six-month period.

Written by Richard Woodard

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