Glenn Eberbach is the winemaker of Ocean Aged Wines and creator of its Vintage Cuvée.
Born and raised in the Yarra Valley, he developed an early fascination with winemaking as an art and science. His formative years were spent in the cellars of De Bortoli and Domaine Chandon, dragging hoses, digging fermenters and honing his craft. After completing a double Bachelor in Viticulture and Winemaking he embarked on a northern hemisphere vintage as a flying winemaker. First and last stop – Italy!
“What started as a three month vintage became a five year tenure when Sicilian winery Barone Montalto made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. The role took me across Italy working with some of the industries most influential wineries and winemakers. It also introduced me, quite by accident, to the benefits of ageing wine in the ocean.”
Returning to Australia as a contract winemaker in the King Valley, Glenn discovered the Burder Family Vineyard and its pristine fruit for sparkling wine production. A new collaboration was born and in 2012 the first Vintage Cuvée under Ocean Aged Wines was produced.
“In a year that most growers would rather forget, the Burder Vineyard produced fruit that was perfectly balanced and without blemish. I decided there and then to start creating my own wine.”
Today, Ocean Aged Wines produce a Vintage Cuvée in the Méthode Traditionnelle style with fruit sourced exclusively from the Burder Vineyard. As a field blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, the grapes are handpicked, whole bunch pressed, barrel fermented in French oak barriques and stirred on yeast lees for twelve months before secondary fermentation in bottle.
“Our winemaking philosophy is very much hands-off. We want to capture a time and place in bottle with minimal intervention. The vineyard and vintage conditions dictate the terms, and ultimately, the final blend that goes to bottle.”
The bottled wine is aged on lees for a minimum five years, with 1-2 years submerged in the ocean. Unlike traditional storage, the gentle motion of ocean currents maintains the yeast lees in suspension. This enhances the maturation process producing a fresh and complex wine with incredible length and finesse. After ocean ageing, each bottle is riddled and disgorged by hand. The bottles’ exterior is preserved in its raw and unique state making each bottle one of a kind.
“We hope you enjoy our wines as much as we enjoy making them.”
Frequently Asked Questions
How did we discover the ocean aged process?
I’m often asked how I discovered the process. In truth, it was not my idea. I stumbled across it, quite by accident, on a flight from London to Rome when I was working as a flying winemaker. An inflight magazine discussed how a restauranteur had run out of space in his wine cellar. In his search for more space, he considered the ocean given it has perfect conditions for cellaring wine – filtered light, hydrostatic pressure and near constant temperatures.
This idea lay dormant in my mind until I returned to Australia. I thought, perhaps the ocean could provide an added benefit to sparkling wine if the bottles were submerged during tirage when the wine is still in contact with the yeast lees. If the currents acted like a crib and gently rocked the bottles, this would keep the lees mixed in suspension, increase the surface area to volume ratio of yeast to wine and enhance the process of yeast autolysis. It was worth a try.
We made the wine, submerged it in crates, waited 12 months, then riddled and disgorged. The results exceeded our expectations!
Blind tastings have shown that our ocean aged wines present with greater freshness, complexity and length compared with those stored in a warehouse. The colour remains much the same but the nose is fresher with lifted aromatics of lemon blossom, honey and brioche. The palate still holds its racy acid line but shows greater texture and weight with flavours of freshly baked bread, white peach and a chalky minerality that lingers long and true. The line of bead also presents much finer and noticeably longer. The exterior of the bottles remain untouched and speak for themselves.
I am also asked where we submerge our Ocean Aged wines but we would prefer to keep that a secret 😉.