DEEP in the Mediterranean you might find vibrant ocean wildlife, beautiful coral, maybe a shipwreck… but a decent Cabernet?
A new fad has hit winemaking markets around the world, and now Spain is included. It’s called underwater aging.
A Ronda bodega run by esteemed winemaker Federico Schatz has embraced the radical new process, aging some of its prime vintages in the Mediterranean Sea.
The man in charge of the ‘Bodega Submarina’ project is Mr Antonio Martinez, who was generous enough to give the Olive Press the lowdown on his favourite science experiment.
He explained that the bottles lie off the coast of Marbella, near the Puerto de la Bajadilla, where they are submersed 20m beneath the surface.
At this depth, the seawater remains at a stable temperature – varying between 13?C and 16?C – especially during the months of October to April.
The deep-sea submersion also results in a moderately pressurised environment (the wine is held at about three bars of pressure) which translates to a slower, more delicate aging process.
But what does this aquatic process do for the actual taste of the wine?
According to Martinez: “Underwater aging takes properly aged wine to a new level.”
So far he has tested three vintages of the same Schatz wine (the Acinipo (H) label) from 2004, 2005, and 2006, leaving some on solid ground while the rest were sunk for a year of underwater aging.
After comparing each year’s normal and ‘submarina’ bottles, Martinez concluded that the underwater-aged wines were ‘undeniably distinct’, even ‘completely different wines.’
The underwater wines had a more complex colour, deepened by 365 days in the cool, sunlight-free environment, gently rocked by the tide.
Martinez also noted a particular freshness that was evident in the intensified aroma.
He also claimed that the taste was different with the seafloor environment gave the product a subtle salinity that accents the natural minerality of the wines, especially the 2006 vintage.
However, Martinez did make a point to mention that underwater aging ‘won’t work any miracles.’
He said: “If you put in a bad wine, you’ll get back just as bad a wine.”
Find out more at Antonio Martinez’s wine tour company Milamores at www.milamoresronda.com