March 29: Twelve bottles of Petrus 2000 sent to Space in November 2019 returned to earth after spending 14-months on the international space station, withstanding the constraints of preparation and travel, and the first analysis by the Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du (ISVV) carried out by a panel of 12 experts including Philippe Darriet, Director of the Institute’s Oenology Research Unit, identified some differences in smell and taste, as well as colour, but these varied according to each taster’s sensitivity, reports Subhash Arora
The identity of the bottles had been a closely guarded secret by the organisers of the trip, who confirmed at the Press Conference on 24 March that they chose Petrus 2000 for the mission. The bottles costing $6500 each were bought from a Bordeaux Negociant with no clue about the objective. ‘Petrus is predominantly mono-varietal (Merlot) and has a documented history that allows us to measure the effects of the wine’s time in space. The 2000 vintage also offers a beautiful structure that will allow us to fully appreciate this impact,’ said the organisers.
An initial tasting hosted by the ISVV earlier this month, saw 12 tasters get 30ml samples of the space and earth wines. This had been part of a research project led by the start-up Space Cargo Unlimited and collaborated with ISVV, the Wine Institute of University of Bordeaux.
A panel of 12 conducted a tasting led by Philippe Darriet, director of the Institute’s Oenology Research Unit, to describe the terrestrial wine and the space wine according to visual, gustatory, and olfactory criteria. Among the comments from the panellists were notably:
- Difference in colour, the space wine has light brick colour.
- Ruby hues with brick-like reflections.
- As for the colour of the edges, there are shades of brick, slightly more pink along the disk.
The first analysis results were shared at a press conference held at the Bordeaux City Hall by Space Cargo Unlimited, as part of Mission WISE, claimed to be the world’s first private applied space research program which aims to leverage the effects of microgravity on complex biological systems to find solutions for the viticulture and agriculture of tomorrow-especially in the context of global warming.
According to Nicolas Gaume and Emmanuel Etcheparre, co-founders of Space Cargo Unlimited, “Mission WISE aims to advance research on viticulture as much as wine making. This process and the ageing of wine remain largely a mystery. In studying them, the founding father of oenology, Louis Pasteur, made fundamental discoveries in life sciences. Today, we believe that the unique characteristics of the space environment can help us continue this research work. This is only the start of a research and analysis program that will be spread over several years. The analysis is still in its early stages, but the first findings are very promising for the future of the research program.”
Despite the 14-month stay on the international space station, the “space wine” was very well evaluated sensorially” explains Philippe Darriet. He says “Differences were perceived concerning the colour of the wines. Concerning aroma and taste components: the two wines were described with a rich vocabulary attesting to remarkable olfactory and gustatory complexity; sensory dimensions of sweetness, harmony, and persistence were particularly noted.” He said the panel identified some differences in smell and taste, as well as colour, but that these varied according to each taster’s ‘sensitivity’.
The wine industry and consumers hope to get the benefit of future research, especially in the area of viticulture and wine ageing in an atmosphere of zero gravity and will look forward to the results from future experiments from The Space Cargo Unlimited.
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