A British winemaker and amateur astronomer has created in Chile a unique variety of wine, a concoction that, according to its designer, brings to Earth the flavor of the Universe.
Ian Hutcheon, enologist, astronomer
Winemaker Ian Hutcheon came to Chile 14 years ago from Norwich, in the Eastern Region of England, and settled in the town of San Vicente de Tagua Tagua, a small community in Chile’s wine-making region, about 120 km south of Santiago. In San Vicente, he developed two disparate business pursuits representing his interests and areas of knowledge: enology and astronomy.
One activity is the operation of “Tremonte Vineyards” a small winery located on the slopes of Mount Rekewa, in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, to produce quality wines taking advantage of the exceptional climatic conditions found at the Cachapoal Valley, next to the Colchagua Valley, one of Chile’s prime wine-producing areas. The second, was the installation and operation of “Centro Astronómico de Tagua Tagua”, a small astronomical observatory for tourists including a planetary and two telescope domes, plus the opportunity of tasting his special Cabernet Sauvignon with the flavor of cosmic matter.
“Cabernet Sauvignon Meteorite”
In an effort to join his two greatest passions, Hutcheon put together a mixture never explored. He experimented with several red wine strains, and one day in 2007, he chose a wine made from grapes of the Cabernet Sauvignon strain and introduced in the barrel an ancient meteorite, leaving it to mature for 12 months.
The result of the experiment surprised him. The meteorite changed the color and enhanced the taste of the wine. "It was a pleasant surprise” said Hutcheon. “We realized that apart from some color change, the meteorite also changed the wine, the flavors are highlighted. This is a more robust wine. You are tasting elements from the birth of the solar system, and that for me is a major difference" said Hutcheon, according to The Telegraph.
The concoction aroused scientific curiosity in the United States and Mexico. Hutcheon has been asked to provide wine samples to analyze the chemical reactions produced by the meteorite. So far, there are no formal results on the studies to support the physical changes the meteorite produces in the wine, but the tourists visiting the Astronomy Center recognize the difference and like the wine.
Following a brief lecture about the Universe and the Solar System, and observing the stars through the telescopes, many go home with one or more bottles of the extraordinary wine with a taste of the Universe. The price for the special wine infused with 4.5 billion year-old celestial elements is about US$10.
The stone measures about 7 centimetres. It is black and much heavier than any rock of the same size. Hutcheon received the rare rock on loan from a friend, an American collector who found it somewhere in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile where the small meteorite fell from the sky some 6,000 years ago. “This rock was formed with the birth of the Solar System, about four and half billion years ago. It orbited within the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and fell to Earth,” reports Forbes.
Hutcheon treats his cosmic rock with special care. He gently holds it with tweezers and circumspectly keeps it in a black briefcase.
The first commercial version of 'Cabernet Sauvignon Meteorite' was made with the harvest of 2010 and reached a production of 15,000 bottles. Hutcheon says he has orders from Spain, England, Canada, Czech Republic and Ireland, reports MSN News (in Spanish).