Under Pressure

The first wine aged underwater

The first vintage in history to age underwater has been born. The Van Zellers & Co Vintage Port 2020 Ocean Aged was officially released on International Oceans Day, on June 8, after being sunk in December in the Port of Sines, with the collaboration of the company Ecoalga — Adega do Mar, which specialises in underwater storage.

This first-time launch is made in partnership with Zouri Shoes, responsible for the wine’s packaging. Van Zellers & Co innovates by adding a new element to the traditional Port Wine route, namely underwater ageing in the Atlantic Ocean, a process that produces wines with intensity, delicacy, and elegance.

Francisca Van Zeller, representing the 15th generation of the oldest family to produce uninterrupted Port Wine, helped to sink a total of 102 bottles last December 7, which were submerged to a depth of 10 metres. “Here the bottles will face more than 1 bar pressure, which is a safe value to start the ageing process of Vintage Port. They will also benefit from a constant temperature and a dark environment for good development. Furthermore, an added value is the beautiful seaweed that starts to appear in the bottles”, explains the Marketing and Communication manager at Van Zellers & Co.

Van Zellers & Co Vintage Port 2020 Ocean Aged was produced with the best grapes from very old vines, located in the heart of the Douro Valley and harvested entirely by hand. As with the other Ports in the house, the grapes for this one were trodden by foot in granite stone lagares, where the wine fermented. After three days, brandy was added to the fermenting must in order to preserve the intensity of the red fruit aromas, such as jam and cassis notes. Notes of spice, dark chocolate, plum and dried figs emerge in this deep and velvety Vintage Port. The ageing in the ocean added an extra layer of flavours and soft tannins, in a blend in perfect harmony with the red fruits present.

The first 35 bottles are being sold exclusively through WineChain, a marketplace for wine NFTs (the remaining will go on sale around Christmas). WineChain guarantees a reduced carbon footprint when buying, selling and storing the wines and offers 12 months of free storage with the purchase of the NFT. All bottles will spend a total of 11 months underwater and will be removed on November 16 (National Sea Day), ready to be packed and shipped worldwide.

In addition to achieving a historic milestone, with the first Vintage Port to age at the bottom of the ocean, Van Zellers & Co teamed up with Zouri Shoes, an eco-vegan footwear brand that was responsible for creating the packaging for this bottle, designed in the shape of a shell. To do this, the brand used only plastic from the Portuguese coast (around a ton of plastic was collected on Portuguese beaches with the help of 600 volunteers) and natural rubber.

Vans Zellers & Co will, moreover, use part of the proceeds to support an educational programme organised by the Lisbon Oceanarium on the importance of our ocean, aimed at school children in the Douro region. Children aged 6 to 18 will thus have the opportunity to learn from the country’s leading ocean experts about the diversity of marine life and how best to protect it.

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