The estate’s Blanc de Blancs 2014 was submerged for 12 months at 60m below sea level off the coasts of Brest, Brittany, in northwest France. The wine was submerged while still on lees. It will be disgorged by 2021.
The English project is different from similar projects carried out by Champagne houses, where disgorging before submerging is required by production law.
60 meters below the sea
Winemakers around the world are now experimenting with the idea of undersea cellars.
Although still a niche, supporters of sea-aging include well-known names like Champagne houses Veuve Clicquot, Leclerc Briant, and Larrivet Haut Brion in Bordeaux, as well as Gaia Winery in Greece.
Some people claim that the underwater environment promotes greater color intensity, primary fruits with more emphasis, and a smoother surface.
The English producer, in partnership with Amphoris, submerged the vintage Blanc de Blancs off the Northwest French coast at a “safe and secure location” away from military and fishing activity.
The seabed chosen is completely dark and at a constant temperature, just like traditional cellars.
Corinne Seely is the wine director at Exton Park. She said that the wine has a subtle evolution, which differs from the typical cellar-aging trajectory.
Selecting the right wine for your mission
‘I attended a tasting at a Paris shop called Soif d’Ailleurs, where we were selling the first Pinot Meunier Rose. I was at a tasting in Paris where we were selling our first Pinot Meunier Rose in a shop, Soif d’Ailleurs, located in the 3rd arrondissement.
This encounter inspired the Bordeaux-trained French winemaker to explore the idea of sea-aging.
Seely explained that the Blanc de Blancs 2014 vintage was selected for the first underwater expedition.
This vintage sparkling wine was released by the producer known for its Reserve Blend (RB), but only in exceptional years.
The Chardonnay for the Blanc de Blancs was sourced from the estate’s 24-ha single vineyard site, originally planted in 2003.
Seely said, “I was curious about the effects that being 60m under water, darkness, pressure, movement, and the location of where the [English] Channel and the Atlantic meet could have on our wine. I also wanted to know how it would affect the wine.
“Two brothers (cellar-aged vs. sea-aged), who grew up in completely different ways.” The time spent under the sea enhances the chalky character.
There’s more to come.
According to the winemaker, the 2014 Blanc de Blancs represents just the beginning of Exton Park’s underwater adventure.
“We submerged more bottles last month. This is a very special wine that has never been made before. It was created for an experiment. I also added some of RB32 Brut, both disgorged and disgorged, to the investigation in order to better understand sea-aged wines at their various stages.
Exclusive Reviews: 60 Above vs. 60 Below
’60 Above’ 2014 Blanc de Blancs (cellar-aged)
The wine is aged for six years in lees and displays a rich aroma of golden apple peel, creamy egg tarts, and lemon curd. The acidity is more prominent and brighter on the palate compared to the sea-aged version. Elegant and textured with a delicious spice blend. Toast with yuzu and caramelized sugar. More salinity, crushed almonds, and a deeper level of sweetness characterize the finish.
’60 Below’ 2014 Blanc de Blancs (sea-aged)
The sea-aged version has a nose that is fresh, with sour orange, dried mango, and yellow apple, along with a hint of ginger spice. It has a more round, oily texture on the palate compared to its cellar-aged counterpart. The palate is rich with wheat crackers, lemon sorbet, and saline Yuzu zest to refresh.