The English Vine has sunk 200 bottles of English wine to test advance bottle ageing theory
It’s been an interesting year for wine experimentation. First a bottle of Petrus aged for 14 months in space was put up for auction, expected to fetch $1 million, and now 200 bottles of English wine have been submerged under sea off the Kent coast, creating the UK’s first underwater cellar.
The English Vine, one of the UK’s largest online retailers for English wine, sunk a crate containing 200 bottles to test recent theories that advance bottle ageing can take place in underwater conditions. It is thought the dark and pressurised conditions underwater closely match those of a classic wine cellar, which along with the tidal current, enables young wines to be aged much faster.
Belief in the theory follows a shipwreck discovery in the Baltic sea in 2010, where divers uncovered 168 bottles of champagne from some of the leading champagne houses including Veuve Clicquot. The 46 bottles, buried in the sea bed since 1840, were believed to be so exceptional that one was sold for €30,000 at an auction in Finland.
“Is this a myth, or really something which could work? We can’t wait to get the results in spring 2022, whatever they may be, when we’ll have expert tasters and scientists working together to find out what it’s all about,” said Neil Walker, founder of The English Vine.
To create the underwater cellar, Neil and his team partnered with The Whitstable Oyster Company to create a gyrating pallet containing a variety of reds, whites and sparkling wines from various English wine producers including Ridgeview, Nyetimber and Chapel Down.
The bottles were securely attached within an internal cage, designed to allow the cultivation of oysters in bags during its year-long stay below sea. After the wine cellar is retrieved from the water in April 2022, The English Vine will work with wine experts to assess the quality of the wine via a series of blind tasting sessions.