Space wine goes up for auction
One million dollars. Those who want to win the Petrus 2000 bottle auctioned by Christie’s will have to pay that for a more unique than rare opportunity. The exorbitant value of the wine obtained from Merlot grapes in the Bordeaux region – produced by the famous Chateau Petrus winery, in the French wine region – in fact, depends on a decidedly extraordinary contingency: the bottle in question is back from a journey of over 400 days in space, the subject of a mission launched in November 2019, when Space Cargo Unlimited sent 11 bottles into orbit as part of a privately funded research study on food and agriculture. Destination: the International Space Station (ISS). The “space” wine, therefore, can boast a period of aging spent in orbit around the Earth of over a year, even if this particularity, according to many sommeliers, would not justify the exorbitant expense necessary to purchase it. But certainly the focus of the British auction house is on the charm of the operation, with the aim of enticing the most indomitable collectors, to whom Christie’s will propose private negotiations confident of reaching the estimated price of around one million dollars. If the figure – equivalent to 830,000 euros – were to be reached, it would be the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold in the world.
How does wine change in orbit?
Someone, however, has already had the privilege of tasting part of the wine from the batch returned from the space mission: the scientists who conducted the analysis of the case at the Wine Institute of University of Bordeaux, in fact, were joined by sommeliers, called to compare the taste of space wine with that of bottles aged in a conventional way, remaining “with feet on the ground.” Among them, Jane Anson, journalist and author of Inside Bordeaux, shared her first impressions with the BBC, highlighting first of all a decidedly different taste: “It is difficult to establish whether it was better or worse. But the aromas were more floral and smokier.” This, however, as the expert pointed out, would probably be due to the aging process of the Petrus, and therefore would have happened regardless of space travel. What is certain, according to scientists at the University of Bordeaux, is that the wine inside the bottles, despite the extraterrestrial excursion, has remained “of great quality.”
The Wise Mission
The bottle will be sold in a unique wooden box, just like the unique space wine occupying it, which cost 900 hours of work by experts of Ateliers Victor in Paris, who worked on the theme inspired by Jules Verne and Star Trek. The auction package also includes a decanter, glasses and a corkscrew made from a fragment of a meteorite, as well as a bottle of “terrestrial” Petrus, to allow the buyer to compare tastings, should he or she ever decide to uncork the space bottle rather than – more than likely – deciding to jealously guard it as a highlight of one’s collection. The proceeds from the auction will go to finance future space expeditions of Wise Mission, “six experiments to help invent the agriculture and food we need for tomorrow on Earth,” explained Nicolas Gaume, CEO of Space Cargo Unlimited.