In the process of winemaking, aging is an essential factor. The gentle blending of alcohol, acids, and polyphenols (tannins, flavor, and pigments) with oxygen in time offers the best wines its complex, subtle tastes. That time, depending on the quality of the fruit and way the wine is stored, may be as short as a few days or as long as fifty years to a century.
Here are some revolutionary ideas of aging wine, by Singapore Winevault:
Under The Deep Blue Sea
“When you think about it, the basic requirements for properly aging wine are: a cool, dark environment, airtight high-pressure storage containers, and as little agitation as possible. While the traditional wine cellar comes to mind, some enterprising vintners in France and Spain had an interesting thought: why not underwater?
In Bordeaux, the Château Larrivet Haut-Brion experimented with submerging specially-made oak barrels in Arcachon Bay in 2009. The barrels, encased in concrete cylinders to allow sea water to flow in and rotate the barrels, were stored for six months and also exposed to the air for about an hour a day during low tide. This resulted in a wine that was “more complex and intense, with softer tannins”, and it turned out that a bit of salt water actually improved the blend. Meanwhile, the Château du Coreau in Haux set up an underwater cellaring service, submerging the bottles in a steel box at 1,000 meters.
It seems that storing wine underwater enables winemakers to have a better control over wine oxidation, temperature control, and light exposure. Wines stored underwater come out with stronger flavors and fresher aromas than control samples in traditional wine cellars. The aging process certainly speeds up, as the owner of Château Champs des Soeurs found out—six months of storage turned out to be too long for whites, but was perfect for their reds.
The jury’s still out on whether underwater cellaring would be a viable long-term alternative to traditional cellaring, but it’s only a matter of time.
The Wine that Fell to Earth
In 2012, Chilean-based winemaker Ian Hutcheon introduced the world’s first “extra-terrestrial wine” —Meteorito, a Cabernet Sauvignon aged with a piece of meteorite believed to be about 4.5 billion years old.
Hutcheon, a transplanted Englishman from Norwich, jumped at the chance to make his own mark in wine—and science—history. “The idea behind the project was to blend my passion for both astronomy and enology in a real, physical way rather than just a symbolic one, and give everybody the chance to touch an element of space and taste particles of the birth of the solar system via a very good handcrafted wine,” he said in an interview with Wired UK.
Hutcheon fermented Cabernet Sauvignon grapes for 25 days, and then placed them in a wooden barrel with a three-inch-long piece of meteorite recovered from the Atacama Desert, where it crashed some 6,000 years ago. After a year, the mixture was blended with another batch of Cabernet Sauvignon. Thanks to careful filtering of the iron components of the meteorite in the aging process, a comparison between Meteorito and an identical (save for the meteorite infusion) batch of wine resulted in Meteorito having “a livelier taste,” says Hutcheon.
Meteorito, produced by Vina Tremonte in collaboration with the Centro Astronomico Tagua Tagua, has been a huge hit in the South American wine market, gaining celebrity status in Brazil.
Lightning in a Bottle
The use of electricity to speed up the aging of wine seems, at first, to be an absurd proposition. Wouldn’t electricity serve to agitate wine, something that’s supposed to be avoided? Not so, if mad science has its way.
Pulsed electric field (PEF) generators – generators that convert low power into high-energy bursts, the same technology used by superpower military-industrial complexes for missile launchers and nuclear warheads—can be used to literally jumpstart the aging process of wine. Electric pulses can strip unwanted microbes from fruit skins, increase the amount of juice produced, and somehow change the wine’s tannin level and acidity.
This technology could appeal not only to large vineyards for its potential to produce large quantities of wine, but also to smaller wineries for the quality the process produces. However, the current equipment cost may be a stumbling block in acquiring this technology: “the technology is unproven at this point,” said wine industry consultant Co Dinn. On the other hand, he added, “Wineries are open to technology that will enhance their competitiveness and sustainability.”
While these new methods are still in their nascent stages of development, the traditional (yet highly modern) methods can still apply. Singapore Wine Vault currently offers the best and most advanced wine storage and cellaring facilities in Asia – all 750,000 square feet of climate-controlled, high-security vaults able to accommodate ten million bottles and The Drôme cellar can be customized to meet the highest and most specific standards of their exclusive clientele. “