The Italian Almanac

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spumante wine

Abysses

A Ligurian wine maker dropped 6,500 bottles of spumante into the sea off the coast of Portofino to mature on the ocean floor in the world`s first experiment of its kind. Four divers and six crew on board a motor boat took several hours to manoeuvre 12 steel cages, each containing around 600 bottles of different sizes, onto the seabed at a depth of 60 metres in Portofino`s marine reserve.

The Cantina Bisson spumante will mature for 18 months underwater in unique atmospheric conditions: a near-constant temperature of 15 degrees centigrade, and with an almost total absence of light, and an important ``cradle effect`` caused by the marine currents. The spumante will eventually go on sale under the name Abissi - Riserva Marina di Portofino (Abysses - Marine Reserve of Portofino).

Cantina Bisson`s Piero Lugano said he got the idea of maturing the wine on the seabed from archaeological discoveries of ancient shipwrecks, where amphorae from the cargo are sometimes found intact despite the thousands of years that have passed. ``I started thinking about ancient Roman galleons and relics (on the ocean bed) and, especially, those amphorae that have been found filled with wine, the taste, colour and smell of which was unchanged,`` he said.

One large 26-litre container will be auctioned off when the bottles are hauled back to the surface in 2010, with money raised going towards biological research at the marine reserve and local volunteer associations.