Words by Mark Driver
It might sound a little mad but Hurtigruten, the Norwegian cruise operator, have aged 1,700 bottles of our 2018 Classic Cuvée in a fjord off the north Norwegian coast.
With Sussex Sparkling wine proving very popular across Scandinavia, our Norwegian distributor recommended Rathfinny to Hurtigruten who were looking to celebrate their 130th anniversary in a unique and historic way.
Sarah and I were honoured to attend the resurrection of this wine and see how it had fared after six months submerged 34 metres deep in the Artic Ocean. Remote and beautiful, it took three flights before we arrived in the small fishing town of Sandnessjøen, just south of the Arctic circle.
The wines had been aged in cages on the seabed and the water maintains a temperature around 5°C most of the year. Divers were enlisted to attach lines to the cages and under lights, provided by a remote-controlled submersible, the cages were slowly raised to the surface as a dozen journalists from all over the world, watched on.
The monumental raising of the wine was hosted by Nikolai Haram Svorte, who recently won the Norwegian Sommelier Championship. Of the wine, Svorte said: “After only six months submerged in Arctic waters this method has ensured the wine remains noticeably vibrant and in great condition by delicately slowing the maturation. ‘I’d expect to taste a rounder mouthfeel and softer bubbles, but to my surprise, the wine has retained more freshness than I anticipated. From the refreshing citrus tones to a mineral salty finish, like an oyster, it’s clear to me that this hugely intriguing experiment has revealed a unique setting to store and age sparkling wine.”
These wines will now be sold on Hurtigruten cruise ships, and they plan to sink a further 4,500 bottles in a similar location later this year. If you’re looking to explore the Norwegian coastline, I’d recommend Hurtigruten. They run smaller ships, serve mainly locally sourced produce and visit many lesser-known towns up and down the coastline. Even better, you can now drink Rathfinny all the way.