Here’s a first for innovative wine making; South African winemaker, Dave Hidden, has produced the first ocean-matured wine!
When Dave bought a farm on the Elim peninsula at Cape Agulhas five years ago it seemed perfect; a maritime climate and a laterite, sandstone and shale soil that had already produced award winning wines. There was just one problem – there wasn’t a cellar. Dave has been transporting his grapes to Stellenbosch to mature them there.
Until a flash of inspiration. Dave was walking near the Cape Agulhas lighthouse and thought of whisky-makers in places like Islay who leave their maturation barrels on the quayside where the waves crash over them and infuse them with the flavours of the sea.
Red wines matured in oak need to be kept at a consistent temperature and humidity and the underwater environment was ideal with temperatures of 13C.
The wine, aptly called Shipwreck Shiraz, was matured in an oak barrel encased in concrete and stainless-steel case and sunk 2 kilometers off the Struisbaai harbor near Cape Agulhas where the two oceans meet at the Southern tip of Africa. It was placed on a reef where great white sharks breed to discourage its theft. It also weighted 2.5 tonnes so the any would-be-poachers would need some serious kit to raise it from its sea bed.
The barrell was left underwater for 18 months and Dave, along with winemaker Emma Moffat are delighted with the result – ‘…a sea tang without being salty’!