M. Hostomme Abysse is a Champagne that’s matured on the ocean floor. Before you get any ideas, this bottle was not rescued from a sunken ship, rather M. Hostomme placed the bottle off the coast of a remote island in Southern France, under 200 feet of water by design.
Prior to being secretly lowered to the ocean floor in a locked steel cage (to prevent theft by wayward scuba divers), this extremely limited release of the 100 percent Chardonnay sparkling wine from the Grand Cru de Chouilly vineyards had spent 4 years on the lees after fermentation in stainless-steel tanks and Burgundy French oak barrels. Being underwater allows the wine to mature in total darkness as well as remain at a constant temperature, this of course is the kind of environment that wine cellars can only aim to replicate.
Only 60 bottles of this deep sea product are available in the USA and each one is intimidatingly priced at $1,900. As for the benefits of underwater aging, being submerged in total darkness for 12 months at a constant temperature of 55°F provides the optimum environment for this delicate wine.
“All sides of the large, rectangular, customized steel box in which the Champagne bottles are placed are enclosed, with the exception being the top of the box, which is a steel grate,” explains Bobby Brower Jr., president of Brower Family Wines, the U.S. importer of Abysse. “The open-grated top allows the ocean water to flow freely between the bottles, creating even water distribution throughout the submerged bottles while also exposing each bottle to extremely subtle temperature and current fluctuations. Each bottle’s cork is waxed over, preventing water or oxygen from entering the bottle,” he says. After the bottles are ocean-aged for a year, each is packaged and presented exactly as it was found when removed from the steel boxes. The sand, shells, starfish, and other unusual attributes are all unique to each bottle. “The ocean determines the ‘label’ of Abysse,” Brower says.