The wine that spent 14 months on the International Space Station has been revealed. It was Chateau Petrus, vintage 2000.
The space voyage was part of a research project led by start-up Space Cargo Unlimited and also involving the University of Bordeaux’s wine institute, the ISVV, reports Decanter. The wine returned to Earth in January this year, but the identity of the bottles had been a closely guarded secret until this week, when the first samples were tasted in Bordeaux.
A tasting hosted by the ISVV saw 12 experts get 30ml samples of the space and earth wines. “The earth wine was exactly how you would expect it to taste,” said Decanter’s Bordeaux correspondent, Jane Anson, who attended the tasting. She added that the “space wine” sample was delicious but was perhaps two to three years more evolved. “There were more floral aromatics [and] the tannins were a bit softer and more evolved,” Anson said.
Professor Philippe Darriet, of the ISVV’s oenology research unit, said in a summary of the tasting, “Unanimously, the two wines were considered to be great wines, which means that despite the 14-month stay on the international space station, the “space wine” was very well evaluated sensorially.”
Samples of the wines are due to undergo chemical analysis in addition to tastings, to allow researchers to explore variations in their make-up. The team hopes to publish findings in an international scientific journal.
Space Cargo said it chose the Pomerol estate’s 2000 vintage based on “oenological criteria”, including the need for a structured wine dominated by one grape variety – Merlot in this case.
Alongside wine, 320 vine canes of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot also spent 14 months in space as part of the project. “We’ll do a whole genome sequencing of the plants, to provide a clear view of all the DNA changes that could have happened on the stay on the ISS,” Space Cargo Unlimited’s cofounder and CEO, Nicolas Gaume, told Decanter in January.
He described the absence of gravity, or the presence of microgravity, as the “ultimate stress” and said researchers on the project were interested in how the plants may have adapted to new conditions.
The experiments are part of the firm’s “Mission Wise” programme, which seeks to contribute to the understanding of sustainable agriculture.