One thousand bottles of wine were submerged in a crate on Saturday, where it is hoped they will age nicely in the ideal conditions provided by the lake’s depths.
The wine, which is a white variety known as chasselas, was lowered into Lake Geneva at the foot of the famous Chillon Castleexternal link. For the next three years, the bottles will remain suspended from a rope to a depth of about 30 metres (98 feet).
“We have not put the crate at the bottom, because it would be too deep, and there would be too much pressure,” explained oenologist Daniel Dufaux in a statement to the Swiss News Agency.
There is a scientific reason behind the stunt, as the conditions below the lake’s surface are ideal for ageing wine: there is a stable temperature between 12 and 13 degrees Celsius, darkness, low oxygen, and of course, 100% humidity to minimise evaporation.
But there are risks, too. A similar experiment was conducted in 2011, but it failed because water leaked into the wine bottles. A second, successful attempt was made in 2014, and this year’s effort is on an even larger scale. This time, the corks are larger and covered with wax to avoid leakage, and the bottles are completely filled, without bubbles, to avoid problems with the increased pressure.
Some 100 people gathered to witness the event, and to put their names down for some of the bottles when they are ready. The “Clos de Chillon 2015” is the castle’s own label, and the grapes are grown near the famous Swiss landmark.
So, if the three-year trial is a success, can Switzerland expect more lake-aged wine in the future?
“We’ll see,” said Dufaux. “We aren’t going to fill the lake with bottles. We could maybe do it once a year, and have three crates in the lake.”
swissinfo.ch and agencies/cl