WATCH: Dive down to this underwater wine cellar in Croatia

2018-09-18 14:00
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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 Edivo Winery.

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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