A British astronomer and winemaker reveals his truly out-of-this-world wine, infused with a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite.
SAN VICENTE, CHILE (JANUARY 30, 2012) (REUTERS - Wine lovers looking to expand their palates by light-years have to look no further than this small Chilean vineyard where a British astronomer and winemaker has combined his two passions to create the first wine infused with celestial elements.
Ian Hutcheon has revealed his 2010 Meteorito, a robust Cabernet infused with nothing less than a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite.
The Scottish expat who has made his home in Chile the last 14 years is inviting the curious to his vineyard in San Vicente, 140 kilometres (90 miles) south of Santiago, to taste his out-of-this-world variety.
Hutcheon told Reuters after a few test runs he decided the best grape variety for his galactic wine was Cabernet.
"A lot of experimenting with different varietals and varieties. And with the cabernet being a slightly more robust wine, a bigger wine, we realised it would work better with that style of wine because the meteorite does give some added mineral from the meteorite itself. So really, in general terms, it makes the wine livelier; we find that it brings out the flavours better. The colour doesn't change much but perhaps a little bit darker because of the carbonised shell of the meteorite but generally it just brings out the flavours and makes each flavour a little more potent," Hutcheon said.
He first selects the grapes from his vineyard and then ferments the fruit for 25 days before beginning the year-long Malolactic fermentation process in a wine barrel containing the 7.6 centimetre (three-inch) meteorite.
After 12 months, the meteorite-infused wine is blended with another batch of Cabernet Sauvignon for the perfect balance of Earth and space.
"A major difference is that you are tasting elements from the birth of the solar system, and that for me this is a major difference. You are tasting space, in a way you are physically tasting elements of the solar system and of the history of the meteorite that spent millions of years orbiting the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, you are tasting that," he added.
The meteorite crashed into Chile's Atacama Desert some 6,000 years ago and was lent to Hutcheon by an American collector.
Meteorito is only sold at the Tagua Tagua Astronomy Centre, launched by Hutcheon in 2007, where visitors can sip the vino while observing the stars and swirling planets in the sites observatory domes.
"I think it is really interesting to mix wine and astronomy. I don't know what the meteor does to it, but it is a really good tasting wine, it's robust," a Chilean tourist identified only as Molina told Reuters.
"It's new, I've never heard of it before so it is a special taste and a special occasion for me. I might not taste it again," British tourist David James said.
The first batch of Meteorito produced around 10,000 liters (2,600 gallons), and is sold at $5,000 Chilean pesos, just over $10 U.S. dollars, a bottle.
But if you can't make it to central Chile to pick up a bottle, not to fret, Hutcheon says he plans to begin exporting overseas soon and the 2011 batch of Meteorito is already in the works.