Image from: the NY Times

I first read about a mythic, underwater wine being made off the Ligurian coast by Piero Lugano, when the NY Times posted this incredible article about Bisson winery’s aptly-named Abissi.

It seems Piero wanted to craft a traditional sparkling wine, but did not have the room in his tiny winery to hold the bottle while they re-fermented.  So he did what any good Italian would do- he came up with a ridiculously logical, yet completey shocking solution:  Hold the bottles underwater, where there is nothing but available space.

The wine is made from Bianchetta and Vermentino grapes, without adding sugar, in the traditional method known as pas dosè.  The bottles are fitted into custom-made, noncorrosive stainless-steel cages and lowered about 200 feet below the sea near Cala degli Inglesi.

Here is the Italian news coverage from the raising of the first batch of bottles:


I finally found a bottle of this elusive wine at Silverlake Wine in Los Angeles.  I chilled it and brought it to Mark, Mario and Kelsey at Old Vine Cafe so that we could taste it together.  The wine comes wrapped in cellophane so that the sand and seaweed and barnacles that have attached themselves to the bottle are not lost.

The Abissi has a straight-forward minerality, which I would have expected from Vermentino, as well as a lovely briny quality that made me think of oyster shells or hot beach sand.  On the palate the bubbles were aggressive and foamy, cutting through and making room for the wine’s lovely, salted-plum and citrus rind flavors.  Delicious, lip-smacking and just plain fun to drink.  I could easily see this wine matching well with seafood; undoubtedly one of the world’s more appropriate wine pairings.

To quote Jules Verne, 

“The sea is everything… Its breath is pure and life-giving… It is the physical embodiment of a supernatural existence… For the sea is itself nothing but love and emotion.”

(20,000 Leagues Under the Sea)

A romantic notion- and I believe the same can be said of wine.