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Maturation in the sea lends suppleness to the wines

By Vitisphere July 15, 2022
Maturation in the sea lends suppleness to the wines
“Wines immersed in the sea for three months at a depth of less than 5 metres struggle to mature prematurely”, reports Karine Aliouane.

t didn’t take diving enthusiast Karine Aliouane from Brittany long to choose the topic of her end-of-year internship in viticulture and oenology at Domaine Clau de Nell in Anjou. “I wanted to check that the time spent at sea expedites maturation of red wines and enhances their suppleness and fruitiness”, says the student, who has just been awarded by the panel of the 11th Loire Oenologists’ Grand Prix.

After battling for several months to obtain a temporary occupation permit for the marine environment, Aliouane built a crate and submerged 16 bottles at a depth of 25 metres at the Pointe de la Jument in Poullan-sur-Mer, near Douarnenez. The experiment began in May 2021, with two labels of the 2019 vintage of Grolleau and Violette, blended from 80% Cabernet Franc and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, corked with Nomacorc's Select Green 300 for the experiment. “I had a double layer of wax added to the bottles to strengthen their waterproofing properties”, says the student.

At 5, 8 and 12 months, Aliouane took out two bottles of each label for analysis and tasting by a mixed male-female panel of ten industry members from the appellation area, including five winemakers. On each occasion, they compared the wines matured at sea with those matured in the winery, blind. After a year of maturing, the panel found that the sea-matured wines had more black fruit and empyreumatic notes, reflecting faster maturation. They also found them to be more supple and complex. In the triangular tests, however, they were not always able to discriminate between the wines. “Ideally, I would have liked the experimental protocol to have been extended to 24 months, a duration that is more conducive to observing obvious changes, and a panel extended to twenty tasters”, concludes Aliouane.

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