Mira Winery ports its cabernet

Winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez (left) and Mira Winery President Jim Dyke talk about their plan to age four cases of red wine (in crates) on the bottom of Charleston Harbor. Buy this photo

Gustavo Gonzales is an esteemed vintner from Napa Valley who has taken pains to craft a superior 2009 cabernet sauvignon.

So why did he dump four cases of it on the bottom of Charleston Harbor Wednesday?

Other than serving up a rich media stunt — one that lured more than a few dozen journalists and other onlookers to the Charleston Maritime Center — it’s also a real-world science experiment.

Gonzalez and Mira Winery president Jim Dyke want to see how bottles jostled with the tides at the harbor’s bottom will taste compared with the same wine stored for three months inside a California warehouse at 59 degrees and 75 percent humidity.

“I don’t know that it will be better or worse,” Gonzales said. “I expect it would be different. I would expect it would be a younger-tasting wine.”

But even though it’s being stored in the port, the wine is not expected to become fortified.

Dyke said he got the idea after reading about some wine and champagne that proved to be tasty after it was salvaged from a shipwreck. While some European wineries have experimented with aging their bottles underwater, he said he thinks it’s the first such experiment in the United States.

Once the bottles are recovered in May, experts will taste them side by side with the normally stored wine. Then, they will decide if it’s worth the trouble to submerge any more cases.

The wine goes for about $52 normally, and the submerged bottles will go for about $130. Mira officials would not disclose where in the harbor the bottles are resting.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.

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