Can you imagine swimming in the crystalline waters of the Bay of Silence in Sestri, and suddenly coming across cages full of hundreds of wine bottles? You may think you’d found an archeological site, or remains of the cargo of an antique roman relict……not quite, but millenary wrecks do actually come into it somehow.
The story begins when Pierluigi Lugano was just six years old, and was invited to help out with the grape harvest and manual pressing in the vineyards of a classmate’s family. He was rewarded with a basket of lovely grapes, and hid them in a pot at home. Every day, he simulated the operations he had observed at his friend’s house, and when the fermentation was completed, he poured the result into a bottle – and couldn’t resist tasting it!……His mother detected the smell of alcohol on his breath and promptly punished the boy, but in the meantime – Pierluigi Lugano’s very first wine had seen the light.
The Bisson winery was born in 1978, when Lugano, an ex professor of arts and highly appreciated sommelier, realized the great potential that was hidden behind the course local wines, made with native fruits cultivated by eastern Ligurian farmers. He began by buying small amounts of grapes from around the territory, and experimented in his own cellar with modern wine-making techniques. The excellent results obtained led to the rediscovery of long-lost Ligurian wines, and to the creation of others. At a certain point, it was decided to cultivate directly, in order to have total control over the quality process of the wines.
Much later, another intuition came to Lugano; he knew that the most important requirements for sparkling wine were semi-darkness and a constant temperature, and his passion for history, the sea and its secrets brought to mind the wrecks of ancient ships, in which anphorae containing perfectly preserved wine had been found. It occurred to him that he could use the same concept for his own products, and set about making this new dream come true. He summoned an underwater operating team, which performed all the necessary on-site inspections with the aid of sophisticated equipment, he then proceeded to obtain all the permits – and the project slowly began to take shape…Abissi was on the way.
So what makes this sparkling wine so unique? The bottles are immersed in stainless steel cages onto the seabed at a depth of 60 metres, where the temperature is always at 15°, and the underwater pressure creates the perfect balance against that inside the bottles. A gentle current rocks the bottles and constantly stirs the sediments, adding to the flavor of the wine, and the metal caps, treated with rust protection, are especially made for Bisson, guaranteeing a total seal against infiltrations of any kind. These are all technical details which contribute to the production of an excellent wine, but there is another aspect – equally important, which makes Abissi unique; the three different types of sparkling wine remain submerged from 18 to 26 months. This means that the sea has plenty of time to “decorate” the bottles with natural incrustations, and sometimes even a starfish or two will decide to choose a bottle as its abode!
When the bottles are resurfaced, they are covered with the result of the natural action of the sea, which renders this product different from any other. They are subjected to disgorgement (elimination of the sediments accumulated in the necks of the bottles), a fundamental operation which also serves as proof that the bottles are totally undamaged by micro-fractures; thanks to the action of the yeasts used during the wine-making procedures, a certain amount of pressure builds up inside the bottles. When they are opened in order to free them of the said sediments, these will literally shoot out – this will not happen if the contents have been polluted in any way, therefore, since each and every bottle is manually checked, no faulty bottle will ever reach the market. At this point, they are properly sealed with corks, then undergo an attentive cleaning – all scrupulously performed by hand, with the intention of leaving as intact as possible the deposits formed on the exterior….. no two bottles of Bisson Abissi will ever be the same…..
Lugano’s passion and his continuous efforts to improve and renew have brought about a huge success. His wines are currently being exported all over the world, and a website illustrates all the products. A new sales point will be launched at the end of March (30-31-1 April) at Sestri Levante, during which it will be possible to sample all the Bisson wines, including Abissi, and participate in the various activities which will take place for the three days of the launch.
You may want to be there and taste a very unique sparkling wine which comes from an abyss.