Does Aging Wine under Sea Water Improve the Taste?

Yannick Heude lives in St. Malo, about as far away from a wine region in France as you can get. But he’s a serious wine lover who also owns a wine shop.

About 15 years ago, he was thinking of a way to celebrate the birth of a friend’s son and together they came up with the idea of putting away  some wine of the son’s birth year. Only instead of putting the wine in a cellar, they wanted to put it in the ocean because of their maritime connections.

So what started as a small project of putting 12 bottles of wine to the bottom of St. Malo’s harbor has evolved into l’Immersion, an

aging wine under sea water

annual tradition that attracts national attention.

Every year Heude would place wine in the harbor, inviting friends to participate as they opened bottles from the previous year. And they loved the results! Intuitively they found that the water was the ideal temperature for aging while shielding the wine from UV rays. In addition, the ebb and flow of the tides mimicked  remuage as it constantly moves the sediment from settling on the bottle sides.

The selection of wines changes year to year, always about 700 bottles with a mix of red, white and sparkling wines. When they remove the previous year’s cache, there is a big celebration where bottles of wine stored conventionally are matched with the bottles aged in the sea. And the results are often startling: wines that have only been lightly filtered are transformed into deep, rich soft wines and sparkling wines have their bubbles refined to a crisp finish.

So every year, on the first weekend of June, 100 people from throughout France buy tickets to experience the phenomenon in person. Sounds like a fun way to learn more about wines!

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