Why Is Bandol Aging Their Wines Underwater?

Photo by Jean de Saint Victor de Saint Blancard via MUNCHIES
Photo by Jean de Saint Victor de Saint Blancard via MUNCHIES

Life is far too short to drink bad wine. On the case making sure you never have to endure a bad sip is Bandol Wines. The French brand from the Bandol region is famous for being the go-to summer rosé for locals in the South of France. Their recent venture however, will break boundaries in oenology around the world.

How, you wonder? By aging their wines 131-feet deep into the Mediterranean ocean. This seemingly insane initiative was co-launched by the Association of Bandol Wines and the Oenothèque of Bandol Wines, in collaboration with the National School of Divers (ENS), who seek to study the aging process of regional wines. The project will compare two groups of 120 wine bottles, half of which will age their customary way inside a cave, and the other half exposed to the elements of the ocean.

If aging wine wasn’t complex enough, Bandol Wines had to consider pirates who might try to poach their stash. According to MUNCHIES, “around here, word travels fast, and even more so when what’s at stake is a veritable treasure trove of booze.”

So why go through all this trouble to age wine underwater? It is thought that ocean depths offer the ideal environment for improving the process. In total darkness, with slight variations of pressure, and 59-68°F water, apparently wine will age in an enhanced state.

“Bandol wine is known for holding up well during sea crossings and is even enhanced by the gentle rocking of the waves,” Guillaume Tari, president of AOC Bandol told MUNCHIES.

“Paradoxically on the Mediterranean, the tidal coefficient is very low, but mourvèdre (the region’s most popular grape variety) is very sensitive to lunar cycles,” he adds.

The venture has fifteen curious winemakers involved in the underwater undertaking.  The 2011 vintage red and the 2014 white and rosé wines are represented in this test set. The wines will be aged over an 18-month time period.

If proven successful, and the wine that comes out is finer than those aged traditionally, it could be big news for Bandol Wines. Until then, cheers!

Oenothèque des Vins de Bandol via MUNCHIES