Divers in the bay of Mali Ston is looking for a special treasure at the bottom
of the Adriatic Sea - Navis Mysterium Wine, aged underwater by Croatia’s
Customers who are feeling especially adventurous can dive down to
retrieve their very own bottle – provided that they have a diving license.
The calm bay is perfect for the underwater ageing of wine.
On the pier, intrepid wine lovers are awaiting their turn to dive to the
seabed. It’s a hit with locals and tourists alike.
According to the diving instructor Mislav Cupek, the
activity is fairly recent, having started about three years ago. “It’s very
popular with Americans - they come over here and for them it’s such a big
novelty. People tend to integrate the dive into their honeymoon. This is like a
romantic getaway from the outside world.”
Vineyards cover large sections of the Pelješac peninsula.
The dingac grape used to produce the Navis Mysterium wine grows along steep
cliffs that rise up from the sea. Because of the incline, the grapes have to be picked by hand.
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Edivo Winery was the first to come up with the idea to age dingac
red wine underwater.
Vintner Ivo Segovic explains the benefits of
his unusual method.
“At a depth of 20 metres, the Mali Ston amphorae offers the
ideal thermic conditions of a constant 15 degrees Celsius year-round. The wines
that have aged in amphorae like this have a softer taste."
The bay of Mali Ston is already famous in Croatia for its
excellent oysters and mussels – but now it has another visitor attraction to
offer. Each year 5 000 wine bottles are deposited onto the seabed, where they age
for two years. White wine, incidentally, needs to be stored at a much greater
depth to ensure adequate temperatures.
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The special wine goes perfectly with meat and cheese, but it
doesn’t come cheap. A bottle of normally aged underwater wine can be had for 70
euros (about R1 220 at R17,43/Euro). One aged in a clay amphora is even more, with a price tag of 208 euros (about R3 625).
“People usually buy it for a special occasion,” says Dora
Mratovic, manager at Edivo, “but if you ask me, we only live once, so every day
is a special occasion.”
The winery has patented this unique amphora ageing method,
which they say gives their wine its special pinewood flavour.
“The Romans and Greeks used
amphorae before transportation of wine, but they put the wine directly into the
clay," says Mratovic.
"For us it’s different because we first put the wine in a glass bottle and
then we put it in a clay amphora."
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