I’m often asked how I discovered the process. In truth, it was not my idea. I stumbled across it, quite fortuitously, on a flight from London to Rome when I was working as a flying winemaker. The back pages of 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. Perhaps the ocean could provide an added benefit to sparkling wine if the bottles were submerged during tirage. If the currents acted like a crib and gently rocked the bottles, this would keep the yeast lees 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 😉.