They can brag of a unique product – protected as a patent. It is an underwater wine challenge and also one of the most expensive Croatian wines in amphorae with a price of 2.000 kuna, Portaloko.hr wrote on February 1, 2017.
Ivo, a scuba diver and his friend Edi thought up a product from their imagination and combined it with quality which the market always recognises. Once mysterious, now already recognised in the wine world, Edi’s wine lies at 20 metres of depth for around two years in incredible conditions, perfect for the wine world.
“No one touches it except us. We provide everything it cannot get in a normal cellar. Peace, quiet, love, uniqueness. The very idea for this type of production was triggered by an event from early 2000s when I opened a restaurant in Dubrovnik. My sister gifted me a bottle of Sveta Ana white wine from 2003, which I haven’t opened to date, with amphorae remains in the top section. Standing like that on a glass bottle the whole time, it inspired me.”
“In the beginning we wanted to pour wine directly into amphorae (used throughout history for transport and storage of wine, oil, honey, salted fish) and place it in the sea, however, this is difficult due to pressure, symbiosis, porosity, clay etc. so we poured it into a dark, glass, Winex Excluziv bottle, elegant with a tall neck, and placed the bottle in amphorae.”
“We named it Navis Mysterium – Ship Secret. The entire product is Croatian. The wine is Plavac Mali from Janjina on Pelješac peninsula, amphorae are baked from clay in Požega in Slavonia, the cage that holds them is made in Sisak, boxes are made in Varaždin and the wine is aged in the Adriatic Sea,” explained Edi Bajurin.
When the wine creatives made their first move in 2011 by placing bottles in the sea, it failed due to problems with atmospheric pressure, but the enthusiasts did not lose faith. Relentlessly they continued towards their goal although the sea penetrated the caps and destroyed 200 bottles of precious wine. Soon they laced the caps with two layers of wax, but that wasn’t enough either as the untameable sea again ruined some of the bottles. Persistent, when they applied two layers of wax and liquid rubber and placed them in amphorae, Ivo and Edi could claim a check-mate.
It was a complete success. The amphorae were, in a search for perfection, distributed at several locations in the Mali Ston Bay and Mljet Channel.
“Due to strong currents in the Mljet Channel (between Mljet island and Pelješac peninsula) nothing grew on the amphorae and bottles, while in Mali Ston Bay (the most significant position for shell farming in Croatia) the results were fantastic. Visually, amphorae and bottles looked like we had dived to a shipwreck of a sailboat abandoned several hundred years ago. They were full of sea vegetation and shells, perfect,” explained heartily Ivo Šegović who managed with the help of Edi to flawlessly balance the aging of wine at 20 metres of depth.
“We deliver bottle by bottle by diving to 20 metres of depth where the temperature is the same year-round (15-17 degrees). Our treasure is in darkness where in ages two years in complete silence,” added Edi Bajurin.
At the time of placing and extracting wine, these unique winemakers dive daily, making checks of their underwater resources every 15 days. The tour of underwater wine cellars spans several locations at which Edi and Ivo check if the current overturned any of the cages filled with amphorae. Each cage can hold 20-30 amphorae.
They currently market several labels: Plavac Mali superior from 2012, Dingač from 2014, Navis Mysterium 2012 and amphorae 2012. Price per bottle ranges from 80 up to 2.000 kuna. Thanks to export, they currently have nor issues with sales and despite hefty prices, manage to sell all.
“First export was to the United States, right now we are exporting to Hong Kong. We have also sold to neighbouring countries, Serbia, Montenegro and Czech Republic,” said director Ivo who describes the Croatian wine scene as interesting. The crown of their originality is also the award at the 2016 Sabatina where they were vice-champions for product appearance.
The two are considered small wine producers, with two vineyards and a total of 20.000 vines. They work with subcontractors on Pelješac and although they take no subsidies, aim to switch to ecological production. In the future they plan to open underwater tourism where they will offer diving for customers who want to select their own bottle to take home and drink unique wine.
“We plan to begin ecological production in the summer of 2017 and the first touristic dives in 2018,” added Ivo Šegović, whose wines have alcohol content from 14.5 to 16.5%.
You can also watch a video of their story: