Dogma Wine Is Decorated By The Sea

by Rudy Sanchez on 10/15/2020 | 3 Minute Read

Bottled wine typically gets aged in caves or underground cellars. The low-light, low-temperature environments keep wines cool and light away, all things necessary to protect the wine from spoiling. These places can be serene, with an almost-eerie calm, providing a peaceful repose for the bottles that allow for a stage of maturation before it reaches the consumer’s glass.

The bottom of the sea is dark and cool, sure, but it's also a more kinetic and dynamic environment, teeming with life and several layers of the food chain. It is a far cry from the tranquil caverns landlubber vintners use to store maturing bottles. For those willing to brave the sometimes unforgiving sea, the bounties can be great, including wine.

Editorial photograph
Editorial photograph

Giovanni Colugnati and Victor Tsvetanov were inspired to produce a sea-aged wine after tasting a single malt whiskey aged in barrels soaked in seawater. The duo enlisted the services of acclaimed Bulgarian designer Jordan Jelev, nicknamed “the Labelmaker,” and his studio, also named the Labelmaker, to give the unique wines a beautiful bottle that literally draws inspiration from the sea.

Working with Zaara Estate, the wines are bottled in Saverglass Bourgogne 1859, topped using classic cork, and sealed with gold or silver wax. The bottles are then placed into cages and dropped 25 meters onto the seafloor near the Tsarevo cove, left to the whims of the Black Sea for approximately four months. In that time, the water’s waves consistently stir the wines, something unique to the sea-aging process. The cages housing the bottles exposes their surface to underwater sea critters, who, after a mere four months, attach themselves or leave an imprint. The result is that no two bottles are the same, but all bottles bear the signs of months at sea, a beautiful and authentic-as-hell finish.

Editorial photograph
Editorial photograph

“Everything was as planned except the fact that we were all underestimating the Black Sea’s artistic talent to decorate the bottle. They are all mesmerizing. Even without a label, you could study them for hours and discover lots of new natural designs,” Jelev said.

After they raise the bottles from the water, each gets carefully cleaned where they apply the label. Since each bottle is unique, the staff at Zaara Estate would have to improvise when it came to descaling and cleaning tools. Once ready, the pewter labels, made by the firm The Metallabels, are applied, and the patina gets added. Finally, the metallic labels are brushed, leaving behind an effect that reinforces the nautical theme.

Editorial photograph

After Jordan and his team brainstormed ideas for the wine box, he came up with a special outer packaging inspired by the wine’s sea aging.

“We were wondering what type of box to use for this unique wine, and then I came up with the idea of using a metal cage like the one we used to put the bottles on the sea bottom instead of using an ordinary box,” Jelev explained. The cages were designed and produced by Evegny Gotev and Bratya Chicheklievi Ltd.

Editorial photograph

“I am a sea person,” he added. “Being born and living in a town at the Black Sea made me love the sea and know it well. I knew what was going to happen to the bottle after spending months at the sea bottom. The sea is a great artist and the result, even though I had plenty of reasonable expectations, was quite a surprise to me. All these sea creatures left their marks on the bottles and made each one of them a unique piece of art.”

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