The English Vine, one of the largest online retailers for English wine in the UK, has created the UK’s first underwater cellar with just over 200 bottles of English wine now under the sea off the Kent coast.

The aim of the underwater cellar is to put to the test recent theories into advance bottle ageing which can, potentially, take place in underwater conditions. It is thought that 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.

Bottle ageing underwater has become a source of interest for a few well-known wineries around the world, keen to investigate this alternative option for ageing wine.  The idea was sparked predominantly following a shipwreck discovered in the Baltic sea in 2010 which dated back to 1840, where divers uncovered 168 bottles of champagne from some of the leading champagne houses including Veuve Clicquot. The 46 bottles remaining intact were believed to be so exceptional that one was sold for €30,000 at an auction in Finland. Whether the perceived exceptional quality was due to legend or an educated guess from those with expert wine knowledge, The English Vine aims to get to the truth of the matter.

Explained Neil Walker, founder of The English Vine:Here at English Vine we were all inspired by the shipwreck champagne bottle story and the underwater wine ageing process felt like something we wanted to investigate and really get to the bottom of. 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”.

In order to create the underwater cellar, The English Vine teamed up with renowned fishery and restaurant The Whitstable Oyster Company. The team created a gyrating pallet of wine, with 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. The Whitstable Oyster Company offered their seafaring knowledge and assistance in getting the pallet into the sea via their equipment and the bottles were lowered on Friday 23rd April. The cage the wine is being aged in has been designed to allow the cultivation of oysters in bags during its year-long stay. The team look forward to enjoying the results with a generous combination of top-quality oysters along with the wines.

Once the bottles are lifted from the sea in April 2022, The English Vine will work with wine experts to assess the quality of the wine via blind tasting sessions to ensure no preconceptions about the process come into play.

Stayed tuned to find out what happens! 

PS - A big thanks to Colin Welsh for incredible video that bought this to life and Whitstable Oyster Company for being incredible generous with their resources and endless hospitality.


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