CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A California winery's experiment with aging wine in the ocean off the Southeast coast resumes next month.
Earlier this year, the Mira Winery of St. Helena, Calif., submerged four cases of Cabernet Sauvignon in Charleston Harbor for three months.
Jim "Bear" Dyke Jr., the Charleston resident who owns the winery, said Wednesday that twice as much wine will be submerged in November for twice as long.
"We view this as an experiment to see what secrets the ocean may hold for aging wine," he said. "Just as importantly we want to see how we apply that to aging wine on land."
Wine has been aged in the ocean by wineries both in Europe and on the West Coast. But Mira is doing a systematic analysis of the effects of such aging. Winemakers have long known that wine recovered from sunken ships has a unique taste. The ocean is thought to have something to do with that.
Mira is working to determine what effect water motion, light, temperature and other factors on aging wine. When the wine was brought up, it was not only tasted, but chemically analyzed.
"It seemed to have acquired bottle aging without spending any more time in the bottle," said Gustavo Gonzalez, the winemaker for Mira. "We basically turned a 2009 vintage into a 2007 vintage."
The wine, he said, tasted more complex that the same vintage wine aged on land.
The wine submerged earlier this year had been aged for a time on land but next month, wine recently bottled will be submerged.
Dyke says the findings of the effects of ocean aging are being shared with the wine industry.
"It's difficult to have a proprietary process of putting wine in the water," he said, noting that in Charleston, during the time the wine was submerged, the water temperature increased from 55 to degrees to about 70 degrees.
"As we learn more, it's going to be more important for other people to participate," he said.
He said it's important understand such things as the impact of water temperature and the motion of tidal fluctuations "to get to where we want to get and impact the industry."
The eight cases of wine will be submerged on Nov. 6. That day the winery launches a seven-city, weeklong tour where chefs, somaliers and others will participate in blind tastings comparing land-aged and ocean-aged wine.
On the Internet:
Mira Winery: http://www.miranapa.com/