This truly is an inspired idea!
Piero Lugano, 63, decided that he wanted to start making his own wine after opening a shop in the Italian Riviera in 1978.
Ten years ago, he wanted to try his hand at sparkling wine from "indigenous varieties grown in vineyards overlooking the Golfo Paradiso on the Mediterranean."
Sounds delicious, but there was a problem: He didn't have anywhere to put them for the aging process.
Then it hit him — put it under the sea!
As it turns out, the sea is the perfect wine cellar:
“It’s better than even 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.)
The problem was that he was pretty sure no authorities would go for it, as you can't just put whatever you want into a national marine reserve.
And yet it was surprisingly simple, and the authorities were excited about the idea: not only would it have zero effect on the environment, the sheer idea of it could bring conservation to the minds of everyone who heard about the project!
So, they did it in non-corrosive stainless steel cages. And here's what happened:
“When we began to lift the cages,” Mr. Lugano said, “all kinds of sea creatures came rushing out. Some remained.” The bottles were covered with algae, seaweed and barnacles, all of it carefully cleaned, dried and preserved on the bottle in a plastic sheath. (Some even had oysters, shrimp and starfish attached to them.)
More important, when the first bottle of the wine (christened Abissi, meaning depths in Italian) was opened for a celebratory toast, Mr. Lugano was, as he put it, “quite pleased.”
It’s easy to see why. When first poured, the bubbles come rushing up to the surface of the glass like sea foam at high tide, but then quickly relax into a fine perlage. The color is pale golden-yellow with greenish reflections, while the aroma suggests caramelized lemon peel and dried flower petals with hints of baked apple and allspice. On the palate it is surprisingly soft, leading into ripe, almost sweet, white peach followed by bracing acidity and a dry mineral finish.
Not only do the bottles sound gorgeous, but it sounds like it tastes incredible!
The next batch was brought up in July, and will be available in America. Though, it isn't known how many bottles there will be!
We'd love to try some!
[Image via NY Times/Alessandro Beltrame.]