Franck Labeyrie, the French winemaker whose inventive ageing methods of immersing wines deep under sea and later more daringly under snow, has passed away at age 46, according to local news report.
The winegrower died suddenly on August 18, according to Sud-Ouest report.
Born into a vigneron family, Labeyrie is the fifth generation owner of his family estate Château de Coureau in Haux, Bordeaux. But his renown in the industry came from his inventive ways of immersing wines deep under sea for ageing.
Fascinated by century-old wine bottles found under sea, Labeyrie was encouraged to test out sea ageing when he secured a “underwater sea cellar” with a local oyster farmer in Arcachon Bay on the southwest coast of France.
In December 2008, Labeyrie immersed and aged his first bottles of white wine under the sea, in the middle of the oyster beds. This gave birth to his sea-aged white wine called Blanc des Cabanes, which is sold and exported while still covered in seashells and clams.
In 2015, he released his sea-aged red wine called Rouge des Cabanes. For readers who want to try out his sea-aged wines, both are imported and sold in Hong Kong by City’super.
Each year, about 30,000 bottles including both whites and reds were immersed for 6 months in Labeyrie’s oyster farming concession.
Labeyrie’s quest to find natural way of ageing wines later led him to experiment with immersing bottles under snow at altitude over 2000 meters.
In 2018, in association with the Cauterets ski resort in the Pyrenees, he buried 1,200 bottles of white and red wine under the snow at an altitude of 2,400 metres. Six months later, they were unearthed and corked.