Aging Champagne underwater isn’t entirely unknown to French producers. Veuve Clicquot is currently conducting a 50-year experiment in the process and five other Champagne houses are also involved in this somewhat unorthodox method. Norwegian shipping company Hurtigruten has tested the method and is now able to offer its passengers 1,700 bottles of underwater sparkling wine from Norway.
Hurtigruten, best known as the Norwegian Coastal Express thanks to its first-of-its-kind route that travels all up and down the coast of the country delivering cargo and transporting people, is celebrating its 130th anniversary. To mark the occasion, aging some bubbles at the bottom of the sea was just one of the anniversary celebration ideas.
Learn more about Norwegian Coastal Express by clicking the image below.
1,700 bottles of underwater aged bubbles
In partnership with British Rathfinny Wine Estate the company lowered 1,700 bottles of its 2018 Classic Cuveé to the North Sea ocean floor in hopes of bringing back a higher-quality, more mature product. However, to most everyone else, the idea of making wine underwater might seem a bit unusual.
The aging of the 2018 Classic Cuveé has taken place at the bottom of the ocean in a remote location just shy of the Arctic Circle. Four crates packed with Rathfinny bottles were lovered a total of 111 feet and kept there for six months at temperatures averaging about 41°F.
Editor’s pick: Spirits of Norway. Learn more by clicking the image below:
The Best Underground Cellar
It should in fact be better than the best underground cellar, especially for sparkling wine. The temperature is perfect, there’s no light, the water prevents even the slightest bit of air from getting in, and the constant counterpressure keeps the bubbles bubbly. Moreover, the underwater currents act like a crib, gently rocking the bottles and keeping the lees moving through the wine.” (The lees refer to yeast particles.)
“We work with the sea, we are part of the sea. It’s in our DNA. Why not make sparkling wine under the surface of the sea where we sail every single day?” thought Tani Gurra, Front of House & Beverage Director at Hurtigruten Norway.
Editor’s pick: Learn more about the world famous Hardanger cider by clicking the image below.
And the result? “I am very impressed,” says one of Norway’s best-known sommeliers, Nikolai Haram Svorte. “After only six months immersed in Arctic waters, this method has ensured that the wine is noticeably alive and in good condition by slowing the rate of maturation. To my surprise, the wine has retained more freshness than I expected. It is obvious that this exciting experiment has shown that storing and maturing sparkling wine really can be done in Norwegian Arctic waters.”
It is a fact that the earth where the vines grow was once under the sea. That this wine undergoes its crucial maturation under water brings the process full circle, giving the concept of terroir an even deeper, aqueous dimension.
Underwater Sparkling Wine from Norway, written by Tor Kjolberg
Feature image (on top): From left André Pettersen (Director Hotel Operations), Hedda Felin (CEO), and Tani Gurra, Front of House & Beverage Director»)
All images (if not otherwise stated) © Hurtigruten