Great recipes mean great food – and for many foodies, great wine. California’s Napa Valley is home to some of the country’s great wineries. Healthy competition and a desire to continuously improve upon traditional methods of producing, storing and aging their vino lead some winery owners to try innovative options for the some of the less efficient methods.
Jim Dyke Jr., president of Mira Winery in the Napa Valley has taken a trip back to his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina to test a European experiment he’d heard of involving an underwater process that not only rapidly ages the wine, but affects the wine’s chemistry and taste as well – we’re assuming in a good way. Dyke says that to his knowledge, he’s the first American to try out the underwater aging experiment.
Last week, Dyke lowered 48 bottles of Mira Winery’s 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon into the 51 degree Fahrenheit waters of the Charleston Harbor. There’s they’ll sit for three months in custom-built permeable and environmentally friendly cages that will hold the bottles in place and still allow water to flow around them. The cages are also equipped with data-collection devices that will help Dyke and his team find them when it comes time to retrieve them.
Dyke says that the underwater method can replicate many of the same factors that are critical in the warehouse aging process (motion, darkness, temperature), so he decided it was worth a try.
Divers fastened the cages to the ocean floor, and there they’ll stay for three months. And although he realizes that some people might see his experiment as nothing more than a publicity gimmick, he says that marketing ploys and gimmicks are not going to convince people that his wines are quality products. The under-water experiment is not a gimmick, Dyke says. It’s innovative.
When divers retrieve the bottles at the end of May, they will conduct chemical tests on each bottle. But Dyke says it’s the taste that he’s interested in. Until then, Dyke is keeping his expectations in check.
We’ll follow Dyke’s experiment and report back on his findings. In the meantime, let us know what you think about this project – is it innovative, or just another gimmick? We want to hear your thoughts!