Allegrini 2018

Wine aged in the sea that comes to the table in amphora, as in ancient times: here is S’Amfora

To produce it, in Maremma, the winery Podere San Cristoforo by Lorenzo Zonin. “Project that links the passion for history, for the sea and for wine”

There are many wines made in amphora, as there are several examples of others that are aged at the bottom of the sea. But now there is also a wine aged underwater that arrives on the table directly in amphora, as was the case in the times of the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans. This idea was born in Gavorrano, in Maremma, at Podere San Cristoforo, the biodynamic farm of the producer Lorenzo Zonin (to whom now, after leaving the Zonin1821 group, he dedicates himself full-time, together with Abbazia Monte Oliveto in San Gimignano, land of Vernaccia, as he explains) who has developed the “S’Amfora” method. “It was the interest in history and passion for the sea that led us to sink 600 handmade amphorae into the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. While the wine has already been aged in glass bottles on the seabed for a few years, the use of a real amphora to age the wine underwater is the exclusive prerogative of the S’Amfora method (which is being tested for a worldwide patent). The fascination of this idea - explains Lorenzo Zonin (who no longer works in Casa Vinicola Zonin 1821, but in the two companies, editor’s note) - is linked both to the importance of wine for the ancient peoples of the Mediterranean and to the many findings of wine amphorae, first on land and then at sea. With a big difference: while the first ones, those found on the earth's surface, had dried up over the centuries, those found in the sea or in the lakes had kept their contents. It took four years of study and practical tests, but also courage and determination to make wine in such a different and yet historically so familiar way for our territory. This is testified by the countless discoveries, both at sea and on land, of Roman amphorae used to transport wine along the trade routes of the entire Mediterranean. We wanted to connect the past with the present, thanks to the knowledge we have today about materials and the effects of pressure, light and air on wine”. The wine is a pure Petit Verdot, which comes in a 750 ml clay amphora, handcrafted and personalized with the seal of the S’Amfora method, just as it would have happened in Roman and Phoenician times.
“Petit Verdot grapes, a rare variety of important structure, harvested on the gravelly soils of Podere San Cristoforo, are destemmed and dropped by gravity into vats where they ferment thanks to indigenous yeasts. Afterwards the wine is placed in French oak barrels for a few months, to obtain an ideal refinement of the tannins that takes into account the further passage in amphora. At this point, the wine is ready to be racked into handmade terracotta amphorae, with a manual operation of great precision to avoid oxidation. The amphora is manually corked and finished with lacquer wax and seal of authenticity before being placed in the immersion baskets. The amphoras remain at a depth of about 15 meters, in the dark and at an average temperature of 14 degrees centigrade for about 9 months. Here it ages, just as it would have done in Greek-Italic times, taking on more mature notes than it would get in the usual aging, as well as developing a slight mineral and earthy note typical of terracotta aging”, explains the company. “A series of events inspired us and, in a certain sense, reassured us - explains Lorenzo Zonin again - before embarking on our adventure. The positive effect on the wine of aging at sea is not so recent. The first results were obtained by tasting the Madeira and the Port found in the holds of some Dutch and English galleons sunk in the sea. After two or three centuries these wines had maintained a certain freshness and had not suffered excessive oxidation. More recently, in 2010, a group of Scandinavian ocean researchers found a 170-year-old wreck off the Finnish coast containing goods destined for Russia. Russia, at the time, was known as one of the largest, if not the largest, importers of Champagne. Finnish divers were surprised to discover a good number of bottles of Champagne still intact. And they were even more surprised when they decided to taste them together with some wine experts. It was a small but great tasting, where the Champagne had remained perfectly drinkable (although it was sweet compared to what we know today). Experts began to draw the conclusion that, for some unknown reason, aging under the ocean had benefited the wine as had happened to wines found in wrecks of the First and Second World War. In fact, after several years and several experiments of some wineries in different parts of the world, some well exposed conclusions were reached at the first “Congress of Underwater Wine” held in Bilbao at the end of 2019. In the depths of the sea it is very dark, there is little oxygen, there is silence, there are no vibrations, rather a very slow movement. All perfect conditions for aging wine if it was on land. But sea water is a hostile environment for wine: it would ruin it immediately if it entered the bottle, so it is important to protect it. For this reason it is important the container and its closure, both studied in detail to protect the wine. In the first months of 2020 we take the courageous decision to sink our first batch for the public: 600 amphorae at a depth between 10 and 15 meters off our shores, in the heart of the Mediterranean. The sea would rock our amphorae in its arms for nine months. When they re-emerge from the water, the amphorae are wonderfully encrusted with small algae and shells almost to form a damask. S'Amfora Podere San Cristoforo will be available to the public at the beginning of December for 200 euros.

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