What do you get when you mix an interest in wine-making and a passion for astronomy? Why meteorite wine, of course. Meteorito, as it’s called, is a unique blend of wine that has been aged with a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite.
Meteorito, a Cabernet Sauvignon, is the creation of Norwich-born Ian Hutcheon. Ian has long been involved with wines as well as astronomy, and always wanted to find a way to combine his two interests. The Englishman now works out of Chile, where he owns a vineyard in the Cachapoal Valley. Out of his passion for outer space, he also opened an observatory in 2007, called the Centro Astrononomica Tagua Tagua. This is currently the only place in the world you can purchase Meteorito wine, although Hutcheon is interested in exporting it to other countries.
When I first heard of Meteorito, I was quite curious as to how it could have been created. The process, it turns out, wasn’t so complicated. It all started with the picking of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Hutcheon’s Tremonte Vineyard in April 2010. The initial process of wine-making was pretty basic; the fruit was fermented for 25 days to convert grape sugar to alcohol. The next step, and the most important one in the creation of Meteorito was that of malolactic fermentation, which lasted a whole year. During this step, the wine was stored in a wooden barrel along with the meteorite for 12 long months. After the year was up this meteor soaked wine was then blended with another batch of Cabernet Sauvignon.
About 10,000 liters of this special wine have been made so far. The meteorite in question is 3 inches long and belongs not to Hutcheon, but an American collector who did not object to its special use. While the specimen itself is 4.5 billion years old, it is believed to have crashed 6,000 years ago in the Atacama Desert, in northern Chile.
So what we basically have here is a wine that has been stewing in an extremely old piece of rock from outer space. Does it do anything good for the taste, you want to know? According to Hutcheon, it does. He believes that the wine has achieved a ‘livelier taste’ with the addition of the rock. He says that his project was an effort to “give everybody the opportunity to touch something from space; the very history of the solar system, and feel it via a grand wine.” “When you drink this wine,” he adds, “you are drinking elements from the birth of the solar system.” I do wonder if it has any side effects apart from making you tipsy.