The tenth vintage of Southern Right Sauvignon blanc, the 2004, will be available to wine lovers over the Hermanus Whale Festival, after ageing for nearly 2 years of its 6 years in the bottle under the chilling waters of the Walker Bay.
425 bottles of the 2004 Sauvignon blanc were sunk in approximately 9m of seawater (depending on the tide) in the New Harbour, as part of an experiment into the benefits of ageing wine under the sea versus on land in the cellar. The cellar-aged bottles of the same wine are available for tasting and sale in the Southern Right tasting room in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.
The founder of Southern Right, Anthony Hamilton Russell, said "I wanted to make the point that good South African Sauvignon blanc can age really well and at the same time test the theory that ageing wine under the sea slows down the ageing process. There was a certain symbolism in using our 10th anniversary vintage to make this point and we enjoy the fact that the bottles were aged in the same bay that hosts the Southern Right whales the wine is named after."
The Southern Right team has already conducted several tastings comparing the sea-aged and cellar-aged bottles. In all tastings the sea-aged wine was fresher, tighter, lighter in colour and less developed, while still showcasing a highly appealing additional complexity from bottle ageing. The land-aged wine has a rounder, fuller structure with more honeyed notes.
Exactly what makes the sea-aged wine fresher is unclear, but factors such as high pressure and the different vibrations of the under-sea environment are thought to play a role. Both the land and sea-aged wines experienced low to non-existent levels of ultra violet light and constant low temperatures.
The sea-aged Southern Right 2004 Sauvignon blanc will be available by the bottle (barnacles, seaweed and all) from the beginning of the Hermanus Whale festival at several restaurants and wine shops. Places expected to carry the wine include: The Harbour Rock, Bientang's Cave, The Marine Hotel, Fisherman's Cottage, The Milkwood, The Wine Village and Wine and Company.
Anthony Hamilton Russell said "Southern Right Sauvignon blanc is sold in more than 25 countries and our bottles carry the message of Hermanus and its Southern Right whales around the world. We are proud of our close ties to Hermanus and the small role we play in drawing attention to what is probably the world's best shoreline whale watching. The community was fantastic in assisting us with our sea-ageing project. We could not have done this without help from Harbour Master Edward May, Shaun Alcock of Southern Right Charters, Jurie Schuurman of Jurden Projects Steel Service Centre and Aron de Gouveia of Scuba Africa."
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