From the mundane to the mysterious, 5 wacky wines that are truly unique

Date posted:
November 12, 2012

There are plenty of ways a wine can be extreme: alcohol, extraction, even age. The following five wines are some of the most unusual extreme wines, writes Gregory Dal Piaz. 


What they’ve been subjected to makes them unusual to say the least. I’m not sure any is better because of what it has been through, but each one does have quite a compelling story. The story of wine is a huge part of the reason we pick and choose certain wines, after all. 


Oldest at Release 


While there are many wineries that hold back barrels for later release, I can’t think of anybody who goes to the extremes of Australia’s Seppeltsfield winery and their Para Port Vintage Tawny.  


As the name implies, this is a dessert-style wine that has been aged in barrel, giving it the classic Tawny style of aged nutty aromas and flavors in addition to rich dried fruit character.  


Seppeltsfield releases a 21-year-old Para Port, which I believe is a relatively new thing, must help with the cash flow. The jewel in their line-up is the 100-year-old Para Port. Yes, you read that right: 100 years. This is a monumental wine and one of the true vinous treasures of Australia. If the current release, 1912, doesn’t hold any particular sentimental value for you, don’t worry. Seppeltsfield releases Para Port in every vintage so who knows, your lucky number may be coming up! 


Oldest Table Wine at Release  


I was cheating a little bit by choosing a fortified wine, so now let’s look and see who’s holding back on us with the table wines. Of course, table wines are more fragile than fortified wines and holding them back for 100 years would just be crazy. There are, however, plenty of producers who hold them for 10 years.  


Vega Sicilia, that iconic Spanish wine, springs to mind, though their ten year aging regimen is a shadow of their former release plan. Back in the day, Vega Sicilia released their wines when they were ready for release, so classics like the 1970 Vega Sicilia Unico weren’t released until 1985 at the ripe old age of 15. Incidentally, that was a very good plan since the wine still drinks like a pup today! 


Shipwreck Wine  


Speaking of late release, how does 230 years sound? Well, it’s not a standard late release. These bottles have been lying at the bottom of the sea off Finland for almost all of their life, though not on purpose. 


In 2010, divers were exploring a wreck and happened upon some old bottles of Champagne. Out of both curiosity and an effort to date their anonymous wreck, they brought a few bottles up with them when they surfaced and eventually were able to identify the wines as most likely Veuve Clicquot from the ‘80s, 1780s that is.


In fact, there are records of a shipment of just such a wine being sent from King Louis XVI to the Russian Imperial Court that never reached it’s destination. Could this be that wine? Most likely it is and from all reports, it’s still delicious. Sorry Russian Imperial Court of 1790. 


Under the Sea


Speaking of aging wine under water, it’s now being done on purpose. You think this is a joke? Surprisingly, it’s not. There are several people experimenting with just such aging. The fact that the previously mentioned Champagne is still intact after 230 years is pretty good evidence that deep sea aging is probably a pretty good idea.


Vintners appreciate the cool, steady temperatures found under the sea, the still conditions that prevent their bottles from moving, and the lack of accessible oxygen in sea water. All work in the aging wine’s favor, but how do these wines taste? Can’t help you there I’ve yet to try one, but I do look forward to it! 


Sticks and Stones


Okay, really this is mostly stones, the cosmic kind at that. Aging wine with meteorite bits is a new idea, though aging wine with stones in barrels is not. Of course putting stones in barrels used to be done as a way to top off barrels, minimizing the surface area of the wine and thus reducing oxidation of the wine. Adding meteorites to make a wine “more lively,” well that’s a whole new ball of wax, or extraterrestrial amalgam of a previously fiery nature.


No matter what you call it, it’s pretty extreme, but it just might be more extreme marketing than winemaking. I guess I have to reserve judgment until I taste this wine too. I wonder if the Jetsons will be helping to promote it?


(Source: SNOOTH)










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