Archive for June 12th, 2012

From the sea rises something … really different

- June 12th, 2012

cavassubmarinas

To produce a delicious wine one requires a high quality vine, the right soil and climactic conditions, a trained nose and palate and … a diving certification???

There are gimmicks – a cool name, a crazy stunt and even off-the-wall flavouring. Then there are those marketing escapades that require a lot of effort, and that in concept seem completely unnecessary but that make complete sense after execution.

That is the case with an old vineyard that’s making new waves in Chile.

It seems that off the southern coast of Chile, shipwrecks and legends of lost treasures aren’t the only things gathering in the Pacific Ocean floor – there are also casks filled with red wine.

Those wines, sitting in a submerged sea cave near the area ravaged by the massive quake and tsunami of 2010, belong to the folks behind Cavas Submarinas.

In Chile, the Pacific Ocean has always played a big part in the quality and character of the wines. The ocean brings the moisture that allows vines to thrive, often without irrigation, and has a mellowing effect on the weather, allowing a sub- Mediterranean climate to dominate wine-producing areas, making them perfect for the cultivation of delicious wine-yielding grapes. But that wasn’t enough for the folks at Cavas Submarinas.

Nope, they are also using the Pacific to age their wines. That’s right, Cavas Submarinas, which in English means Undersea Caves, gets its name from the place and method they use to age their wine. Although some of the aging of their Pinot Noir takes place in traditional places using traditional methods, such as French oak casks and on shelves in the bottle, three months of the aging process takes place in an undersea cave.

It seems that this top-secret-cave provides the low-light conditions, naturally regulated temperature – and, apparently the peace and quiet – that an adventurous wine requires to mature.

So, is this novel approach – along with the PATI open sea qualification – worth the effort? It’s hard to say.

The wine is good, providing a full body and full spectrum finish. It provides a complex flavour and woody character that lends itself well to accompanying meats. The flavours are also delectable when brought out by strong cheeses. But are all these qualities the result of being cradled in the Pacific’s womb? Can’t really say.

The one sure effect the ocean has on the wine is that it does make the product very rare. The wine is not openly available in North America and it’s nearly impossible to buy in Chile, as Cava Submarinas has chosen instead to target the emerging high end wine market in Asia with these cold and salty bottles.

The quality of the wine is not a game changer but it does provide for pretty cool bragging rights and therein lies the value. If you can get your hands on one of these bottles, grab it. How many people can say they’ve had a good wine made from grapes grown irrigation-free, at the edge of the Andes and aged in undersea caves in the Pacific Ocean?