The Cellar Goes Deep

Issue #26 May 2021 

Each month we descend to the cool environs of the cellar to discover and get to know three new wine friends. But this month as we get settled around the old, oak tasting table, I thought it worth recounting the astounding story of a few divers who one day descended to the cold, dark underwater depths of an entirely different kind of cellar, where they made the wine discovery of a couple of lifetimes.

Welcome back to the cellar.

They dove into the Baltic Sea off the coast of Finland in 2010. Down, down they went to about 160 feet where they happened upon the remains of what was likely a sunken trade schooner. 

Bottles as they were found at the bottom of the Baltic Sea

There, scattered amongst the wreckage they found a sunken treasure; 168 bottles of champagne that had aged in near perfect conditions for 170 years. At that depth of course, there was minimal light and the temperatures ranged between 35 and 39 degrees Fahrenheit. The labels were long gone, but researchers studied the corks to confirm the bottles were from several champagne houses including, Veuve Clicquot.

Philippe Jeandet, a professor of food biochemistry at the University of Reims described the wine this way. “It was incredible. The aroma stayed in my mouth for three or four hours after tasting it.” My guess is he may have had some kelp stuck in his teeth.

And from the ‘some people just have too much disposable cash file’, several of the bottles have since been auctioned off for up to 100,000 euros each. Thankfully, other bottles have been sent to museums and historical institutions. Weird, Jim’s Affordable Cellar didn’t receive any.

That said, it really is an incredible story. But it’s time for us to dive into our wines for this month.

Because I still have champagne on the brain, I thought it might be nice for us to get to know another bubbly. But it doesn’t come from the depths of the Baltic, this one comes from Argentina. 

It’s a tasty sparkling Rosé and why not, June is just a hop, skip and a sip away. And there’s nothing like an afternoon in June with the company of a bottle of pink bubbles.

Vuelà Pinot Gris Brut Nature Sparkling Rosé
Mendoza, Argentina
750 mL bottle  VINTAGES#:  18565

Vuela Pinot Gris Brut, as the name states is a Rosé of the sparkling variety. It’s a dry and refreshing one too, with aromas of citrus and tastes of nectarine, peaches and strawberries. 

If you ask me, this is a beautiful way to put a wine glass to use. Especially before the sun goes down because those tiny bubbles dancing in the sun are a sight to behold.

Our next wine, comes to us from Hungary. You are right, this is the first time in our monthly get-togethers that we’ve tasted anything from the vineyards of this Central-European country. Hungary covers an area of 93,000 square kilometres and on some of that land grows the grape which makes this tasty wine before us. The grape called Irsai Olivér is the result of cross-breeding two other Hungarian grapes, Pozsonyi and Pearl of Csaba. Any grape called the Pearl of Csaba, has to be good!

Garamvári Irsai Olivér 2019
750 mL bottle  VINTAGES# 12070

Garamvári Irsai Olivér 2019 is a pale, dappling yellow in the glass. It engulfs you with aromas of grapefruit, green apple and oranges. I have to say, my wife noticed the oranges, before I did. Ah, the power of suggestion. I think she’s right though.

Also, there are tastes of tropical fruits and lavender. This is a perfect summer wine; kind of like a Pinot Grigio but more fragrant.

This month’s red is a beautiful Pinot Noir that comes from one of the best Pinot growing regions outside of Burgundy and another region we’re going to for the very first time; Oregon. 

Wine has been produced in Oregon since the state was settled in the 1840s; however, winemaking has only been a significant industry there since the 1960s. Now, Oregon is recognized for producing some of the top Pinots in the world.

Foris Rogue Valley Pinot Noir 2018
Oregon, USA
750 mL bottle  VINTAGES#:  937128

Foris Rogue Valley Pinot Noir is a glittering, light ruby. Clink a couple of glasses of it together three times and it will take you anywhere. It wafts aromas of red fruits; raspberries and cherries in particular. And it’s smooth, elegant and delicious. 

Foris also has full-bodied power with the tannins to prove it, but it isn’t heavy. 

A very nice Pinot for sure. 

Well, since we started our conversation this month with the story of that amazing underwater discovery, we will close by remembering the great deep sea explorer Jacques Cousteau, who left us 24 years ago next month. 

Jacques-Yves Cousteau, was a French naval officer, explorer, conservationist, filmmaker, innovator, scientist, photographer, author and researcher who studied the sea and all forms of life in water. My guess is, had he come across those 168 bottles of sunken champagne, it would have been a discovery that even for him, may have been hard to fathom.

Cousteau in background with find

Actually, he did discover almost 1500 sealed Roman wine jugs within a Greek wreck that were more than two millennia old. After retrieving them, Cousteau and his crew celebrated on the deck of his ship by sampling the find. He said it was “very sweet, with a hint of oak.”

Jacques Yves Cousteau

Let’s leave with a toast to this great man, his curiosity that drove a life-long quest for new aquatic discoveries and his gift of sharing what he learned along the way. 

See you next month back in the cellar. Until then, keep your glass of wine close and your friends even closer.


Thanks to everyone for signing up to my web page where you’ll see this each month as a blog. If you know anyone who is interested in following the newsletter, they just have to visit to submit their email. The button is below the ‘back issues’. They’ll be notified each month, as will you, when each new issue is published. And the newsletter is a little more reader friendly there.

If you’re enjoying my wine meanderings, I’m really glad. And please let me know your thoughts or tell me about any great wine you’ve discovered. 

5 thoughts on “The Cellar Goes Deep

  1. Hey James – I loved watching The Undersea World of Jacques Yves Cousteau – down down trou za depts – past da octapuss and da moreh eeelllll. I look forward to trying your selects. Brian


  2. Hi Jim: As kids we watched Jacques Cousteau with our parents and love his underwater discoveries. Just picked up one of your discoveries, the Vuelà Pinot Gris Brut Nature Sparkling Rosé and will have a glass as the sun goes down later to celebrate the day. Cheers, Karen


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