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Undersea cellaring service preparing to launch

The world's first undersea wine cellaring service 1,000m deep and 150km off the Atlantic Coast will open next year.

Atlantic storage: ‘deepening flavour’

Frank Labeyrie, of Chateau du Coureau in Côtes de Bordeaux Cadillac, hopes to open his cellaring service, Vin Mille Lieu Sous Les Mers – a pun on the French title of the Jules Verne’s classic, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – in mid 2013

Labeyrie believes that the ocean’s constant cool temperatures, zero oxygen and zero light will help the wines age slowly, so keeping intensity of fruit for longer, and deepening flavour.

He has aged 10,000 bottles of his own wine in the Arcachon Bay for the past five years, at a depth of only 5m, but is certain the benefits will increase with the depth.

The wine will be secured in reinforced stainless steel boxes, capable of withstanding pressure of up to one ton per cubic metre, secured to the ocean floor, and each equipped with cameras and a tracking device, and with a wax seal over the bottles’ original corks and capsules.

Storage will be for a maximum of 10 years, and bottles will be brought up for tasting every two years, when the owner can decide whether to continue with the cellaring or not.

Labeyrie has partnered with marine maintenance company Jifmar Offshore Services, which is jointly funding research and will provide boats and the underwater robots needed to lay down and retrieve the bottles.

Foad Zahedi, director of Jifmar, told Decanter.com that research is currently ongoing at a depth of 250m. ‘Tests have been successful, although we have had a problem with a few corks. We have a team of 10 people working part-time on the logistics and research challenges.’

The ocean cellar service, which is expected to cost about €17 per bottle per year, with a minimum number of bottles per container, will be officially launched in June 2013.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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