After spending 14 months aboard the International Space Station as part of a biological research project led by NASA and France’s Space Cargo Unlimited (SCU), 12 bottles of 2000 Pétrus Pomerol (98 points, $4,504 current auction price) have returned home.
What does wine aged in outer space taste like? A panel of 12 tasters, including French enologist Franck Dubourdieu, recently sat down to find out, comparing the wines against a control group of the same vintage which had not slipped the surly bonds of Earth.
"Pétrus was chosen because of its very unique specificities among the greatest Bordeaux wine: nearly single grape variety (Merlot) and structured vintage," explained SCU co-founder and CEO Nicolas Gaume, who also noted that the elite Right Bank property was not a partner on the project. (The bottles were purchased from a broker and authenticated by an expert.)
The first blind tasting was held March 1, led by Professor Philippe Darriet of the Institute of Vine and Wine Science (ISVV) at the University of Bordeaux. The tasting panel consisted of five experienced tasters and seven amateur tasters, all of whom were poured both the Terrestrial Pétrus 2000 (aged 21 years on Earth) and Space Pétrus 2000 (aged 20 years on Earth and one year in space). In a press conference on March 24, Darriet said that both tasting groups agreed the wines were of high quality and that space had no detrimental impact on sensory qualities, although some noted differences in color and texture.
Gaume, who feared that the voyage to and from space might damage the wine, was surprised by its "amazing" resilience; he also found that the Space Pétrus was "more floral” and “slightly darker."
Although the analysis is still in its early stages (vine cuttings were also taken to space and are still being studied), the SCU team says the findings are promising for the future of the research program. "A need for healthier organic solutions is a must, and we believe space can provide these solutions," Gaume said. "By exposing vines and wines, which are extremely sensitive to climate change, to the absence of gravity, we can better understand what natural options could be captured."
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