Agriculture is known for offering the products of the earth. A fisherman too is somehow a grower whose products come from the sea. This synthesis certificates and identifies the chain of the Cantina del Mare. Here starts the will to discover indigenous varieties pertaining to the territory, combining earth to sea, enhancing the growers’ and fishermen’s knowledge, creating a cultural journey that could expand the touristic offer. This is the philosophy that inspired the founders – Marcello Fornari, Fabio Lacchini and Massimo Randi – in the research of the ideal context where these thoughts can converge and inspired myself, the writer, to invest in this project, nurturing and supporting it with the same enthusiasm.
After various experiences on the field – sommelier courses, samplings, masterclass, vertical tastings, the spark arced over in a striking manner at the piece of news that, in 2010, in the Aaland archipelago – offshore Sweden and Finland – a ship sunk in 1880. Aboard, the frogmen found bottles of a liquid that looked like wine: it was champagne, with VCP logo – Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin. Protected like relics, the bottles were submitted to examinations, analysis and experiments of any kind, till, in 2012, further to an exclusive tasting, the incredible result came out: the perlage, that is the bubbles, had nearly disappeared but the wine was intact.
This was due to the high processing standards that had been practised then and there, to the quality of the bottles, the corks and seals that Romagna farms, they are traced to give life to the fining project in the sea, creating at the same time a very short chain, that goes from the cave to the fishing vessel after a path of a few kilometres. Wine is bottled in previously certificated bottles in hyperbaric chamber, ready to be immersed in the sea. Then, they are sealed with shellac on the cork in order to avoid infiltrations and wine leakage. At this point, they are stowed in the ‘pupitre’, that is in the cages, suited for being dipped and hooked to the rows of rearing for mussel farming, 7 kilometres far away from the Cesenatico coast. For 6 months, they will be fining chambers and, thanks to the sea remuage and the swell, sparkling making will transform these grapes as in a real ‘Cellar in the sea’.
This sea area enjoys of a state concession, requested and obtained, as first agricultural concession in Italy for fining wines in the sea, at a depth guaranteeing constant temperatures, the virtual absence of light, the silence of the sea, the additional pressure and the sea streams creating an environment that cannot be reproduced on dry land. After 6 months fining, the bottles are naturalized outside, covering with mussels and marine organisms, creating an exclusive, natural and unparalleled packaging.
Each bottle becomes unique. Little pieces of art, crafted by the sea! Inside, they preserve a wine that has gained in taste, colour and smell, without external alterations. The submarine fining with the harmonious message of the tides and the particular micro-climate of light, pressure and temperature confer extraordinary characteristics of taste, perfume and durability over time. At this point, a period of quarantine is needed, to let the total organic removal of the bacterial growth that has taken root on each bottle. Then, the bottles are ready to be wrapped in cellophane (to protect from the cutting shells remaining), labelled (to guarantee traceability), put in wooden crates.
This system of fining takes us back to the ancient wines found under the sea, in the Roman shipwrecks, inside the oil pots of which Cesenatico – called Adnovas at the times of the Romans – was production area. These furnaces produced the oil pots that were directed to all the harbours of the Adriatic. On all the products was stamped the PIVNCIL mark (Pubblius Iunius Cilo – Pubblio Giulio Cilone, proprietary of the furnace). In this village, near the furnaces – parallel to via Popilia, connecting Rimini to Ravenna – the ‘taberne di Cossuzio’ (Cossutian taverns), true inns, where the travellers made their horses rest, stayed and drank wine produced in the area, a rich red wine (Atrum, in roman), white wines (Candidum, in roman) and rosé wine (Rosatum, in roman). The aromatic white wine (Apiciaie, because it attracted bees).
This is the reason why “La Cantina del Mare” gives ancient roman names to its wines: Atrum, a rich red wine from Longanesi grape, Ravenna IGT; Candidum, barriqued white wine from Famoso grape with natural fermentation; Ad-novas, white brut Metodo An-cestrale from Famoso grape, with natural fermentation, in honour of the city of Cesenatico. Having a “Cellar in the sea” creates an occasion to draw the attention on a tourism of quality, paying a particular attention on innovation without neglecting tradition.
In partnership with trade association, during summer, “special” tours are organized to make this project be known and in the meanwhile exploit the products of our work. A boat equipped with a kitchen takes the tourists to the area of fining. Dive instructors accompany them in a diving dedicated to the visit of the “Cantina del Mare”, letting them take some bottles of red wine and a good quantity of mussels, so to clean them, cook them and make a tasting on board. Each participant can have a bottle in its original wooden package, as a souvenir and witness of this experience. The wines of the “Cantina del Mare” are sold mainly in pre-sale, with a numbered property certificate, before immersing them in water. In a short time, these products have become ‘cool’ to celebrate special occasions, for feast days in general, Christmas on top, thanks to the exclusivity of the quality guaranteed. This is why they are reserved from year to year, alone or combined with truffle and/or caviar!