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Home > News > Coverages > Wine under water...
16 May 2015

Wine under water...

Everything started with a discussion among friends: our hotel and restaurant sales manager, Laurent Cerutti, and two of our clients, Mickaël Tanguy and Mathias Legras, both oyster farmers. Generally, oysters and wine only meet at table, forming delicious combinations appreciated by our taste buds.

We wondered whether we could try an adventure together, both for fun and as a learning experience: How would our wines behave if they were aged under water for several months? How would they evolve? We thought it was an interesting experiment, so we tried it out…

Bottles (corked and sealed with wax) of red and white Château Bonnet reserve, red Château Bonnet, and red (2007) and white Château de Rochemorin were selected for this experiment and put into the bags used for farming oysters.

bouteilles dans casier à huîtres

Both of the oyster farmers agreed to submerge some of these containers in their oyster beds, located in two very different geographical locations.

1°) Mickaël Tanguy, who farms oysters at La Trinité-sur-Mer in Brittany, submerged some of our wines in Quiberon Bay, in 4 meters of water at low tide and 9 meters at high tide. The wine kept here was affected by the movement of the waves, at water temperatures varying between 12°C and 20°C. The regular movement of the bottles with the tide enhanced the wines fullness and softness as they continued ageing…

2°) Mathias Legras, an oyster farmer from Arcachon Bay (also our partner at the Cabanes en Fête oyster and wine festival), submerged the bottles at the entrance to the bay, near the Banc d'Arguin sandbank, where the natural conditions are usually calmer.

This rather unusual ageing in a marine environment lasted nearly 15 months. The wines were then brought ashore for tasting by the entire team, who were very keen to try them…

Ostréiculteur 1

Comparative tasting (with the same wines aged in our winery) revealed several key findings:

  • The submerged wines had aged more rapidly than those that had stayed on land.
  • The white wines were apparently more sensitive to these unusual storage conditions: slightly modified colour…
  • A very slight salty taste was also perceptible.
  • The red wines seemed less affected and no significant change was detected. It would be interesting to repeat this experiment over a longer period with just red wines.

These initial results are likely to offer interesting prospects in terms of obtaining more rapidly all the tasting characteristics of wines that have been aged in a cellar for much longer.

Although the natural conditions (temperatures, light, variable impact of tides, currents, etc.) in the two submersion locations were very different, no major differences were detected between the wines aged in the open sea in Brittany and those deposited on the seabed in Arcachon Bay after the relatively short storage period. Another experiment, over a much longer period, would provide more in-depth data and make it possible to determine how the wines age in different marine environments.

It was an interesting experiment… but it will be many years before Neptune, the Sea God, takes over from our cellarmasters to supervise the ageing of our wines!

Finally, we would like to thank Mikael Tanguy and Mathias Legras very warmly for their involvement and practical help with this exciting experiment.