It isn’t often that Charleston Harbor and Napa Valley are included in the same news story but last week that’s just what happened. A Napa Winery will use the South Carolina harbor to experiment with ocean aging of their wines. My first reaction was to recall the era when Japanese consumers were using microwave ovens to age wines. Take a bottle, thrust it into the micro, spin it for a few minutes, and you will have matured it considerably. I never tried it and never really believed it worked quite that way, and I haven’t heard anything about it recently.
But ocean aging… I’m looking as I write at a bottle of Norwegian Aquavit labeled “Linie Aquavit.” Distilled in Oslo by the Loiten Branderis firm, its makers ship it to Australia and back before putting it on the market. They claim a few weeks rocking on the sea helps mature the brandy, but as a Scandinavian who occasionally faces the necessity of toasting with an Aquavit, I can’t claim that a couple crossings of the equator does much for the flavor of this potato-based, anise flavored “water of life.”
But back to the wine in the harbor. According to the Fort Mill Times, Mira Winery will submerge four cases of 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon in specially designed cages in Charleston Harbor. The experiment seems based on reports that wine recovered from sunken ships have been “enhanced” by the movement of underwater elements.
The Times quotes Mira winemaker Gusatavo Gonzales: “Is there something just as impactful and interesting in aquaoir as there is about terroir? We are going to try to find out.”
Local wine servers will sample the submerged wines after three months to compare them with wines left above ground. Updates will be posted on www.miranapa.com/charlestonharbor. The Times report does not explain why Charleston was chosen by a winery near the Pacific Ocean, but it does explain that the biggest markets outside California for Mira Wines are in Charleston, Miami, and Washington, D.C.
I shall return my unopened bottle of Linie Aquavit to its dark closet and await the first results of the Mira experiment.