Aging Wine in Charleston Harbor
Mira Winery announces the results of its historic ocean aging experiment.
by Erin Z. Bass
Mira Winery concluded its three-month experiment in Charleston Harbor May 21 when it recovered four cases of its 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from 60 feet below the Atlantic Ocean. The first American winery to successfully experiment with aging wine in the ocean, Mira made history in Charleston and recently revealed the taste test results from the experiment.
Before being submerged, Mira’s Cab was tasted by Winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez and Communion Wine Club of Charleston Advanced Sommelier Patrick Emerson. “In full disclosure, I am a big fan of the control wine which was on land,” says 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.”
Emerson goes on to explain that three months isn’t long in terms of aging wine but that the ocean obviously aided in speeding up the aging process. “The water pressure and rocking from the tides are going to have the effect on that,” he says. “It’s not sitting still on a rack.”
He describes the Charleston harbor wine as having primary elements of dark fruit, blackberry and cassis. As compared to Mira’s wine aged on land, he says the flavors of the ocean wine are “more integrated, the tannins are smoother and more relaxed in the wine. There’s a different mouth feel.”
Gonzalez (pictured) says “It’s not better, it’s not worse and it is definitely different. 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.”
Samples of the wine are being sent to Napa for chemical analysis, and this fall Mira plans to put twice as many cases down for six to eight months in Charleston Harbor again. According to Mira Winery President Jim “Bear” Dyke Jr., who lives in Charleston, the company wanted to become part of the city’s long history and contribute to its status as a culinary destination. “There is no doubt that the ocean holds a potential gift to wine,” he says. “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.”
Want to taste Mira’s ocean-aged wine? You’d better join their Wine Club quick. Twelve bottles of the wine will be sold via the website exclusively to Wine Club Members, beginning July 1, on a first-come basis.
Photos courtesy of Mira Winery.