Water Sommelier Jessica Altieri
Hydration Celebration with Svalbarði
Water Sommelier Jessica Altieri
The term medieval Scandinavian sailors used to describe the ice-covered lands at the top of the world.
Earlier this year, Jessica Altieri became a certified water sommelier. In fact, the only certified water sommelier in the state of Illinois. So, we wanted to start sharing with you the stories behind some incredible water brands that you should be pairing up with your wine, food and beyond.
Today we tell the story of Svalbarði , an award winning, ultra-low mineral still Arctic iceberg water.
It gets its tagline a “taste of snow in the air” due to iceberg waters that are some of the rarest in the world. This water is as unique as its story that we learned from its founder Jamal Qureshi.
In 2013, Norwegian-American Jamal Qureshi collected meltwater as a gift for his wife while travelling in the Norwegian island territory of Svalbard – one of Europe’s last great wildernesses. The pure water would make for a delicious cup of tea, he thought. That’s a pretty thoughtful gift and one of the things that first caught our attention about this brand.
Nonetheless, 4 years later, that creative, generous thought transformed into an epicurean product, which is redefining the very notion of pure drinking water.
With approval from the Governor of Svalbard, Jamal chartered an icebreaker – the Ulla Rinman – and sought out the purest of icebergs just 1,000km from the North Pole at 79° north. As fresh as the day it fell as snow up to 4,000 years previously, 15 tons of ice is gathered by the crew.
Svalbard’s glaciers release approximately 5 billion cubic meters of icebergs into the sea every year. The team heads out for anywhere from 3 to 7 days to find the perfect ice.
The icebergs need to be from the most protected inner part of the glacier. The presence of ancient air bubbles, which make a crackling sound as they melt, is a key sign that the right pre-industrial era iceberg has been found. The source ice can be up to 4,000 years old and requires no chemical treatment.
The iceberg must then be carefully lifted out of the arctic water. This is dangerous and risky work. Rough seas can threaten to crash tons of ice against the gathering vessel. Ensuring maximum safety means sometimes the search must move on to find a safe location with the right type of ice.
The ice is then gently melted in a specially constructed machine and bottled by hand, capturing the best drinking water in its cleanest form. In order to retain the water’s natural composition and premium taste, no chemistry-altering filters are used, only micron filters and UV light to adhere to international standards.
Each expedition yields 13 thousand bottles of pure drinking water; therefore, each batch is a limited edition. The product can be shipped around the world.
Based in the Arctic outpost of Longyearbyen, an important center for global warming research – Svalbarði is an environmentally friendly company with a deep interest in raising awareness for polar and climatic research.
The company operates sustainably for the conservation of the Arctic environment in three main ways:
- Firstly, Svalbarði is carbon neutral-certified which means that the company invests in a carbon-offsetting scheme, which supports projects around the world. These have included a wind farm in western China, and upgrades to local water infrastructure in Uganda and Malawi. Their pure drinking water is produced in an entirely sustainable manner.
- Second, they use their position as a global company based in the Arctic to raise awareness of the vital role Svalbard plays in scientific research of global warming on an international scale.
- Third, the company aims to lessen the impact of global warming. Through a partnership with the Crop Trust, they support the preservation of food crop seeds representing 15 thousand years of human agriculture which are endangered by the changing climate.
If you’re still wondering what defines the brand, it’s all about the location, Svalbard! You have one of the world’s most northernmost communities where there are more polar bears than people, and 60 perecent of it is covered by glaciers.
When you see a bottle of Svalbarði, most people get the same reaction: “wow”. This bottle belongs on your dining table or up on your mantle, with its visually stunning look that matches the rarity of the source.
Jamal had some very interesting pairings to pair with Svalbarði that should be on your 2018 tasting experience list. The first thing to keep in mind is their tagline – “the taste of snow in air”. The water is so light it’s like when you were a kid eating snow. The water is perfect for enhancing delicate flavors, as well as fish and light desserts.
Given its lightness, Svalbarði is not suited to a full-bodied wine with a bold structure which would overwhelm the iceberg water’s nice delicacy. Instead, it blends ideally with a soft, suave wine with a moderate alcoholic level.
Some recommended wine pairings would be fresh and fruity white wines; rosé, Beaujolais, aromatic sparkling wines, classic cava and champagne.
The water you use for your coffee also makes a difference! For instance, when Svalbarði is paired with a strong and astringent espresso, helps to dilute the harsh, intense and persistent sensations.
And let’s not forget about tea. Light green tea is a perfect pairing with Svalbarði because the iceberg water’s structure does not overlap the tea’s astringency and sharpness – allowing a better perception of its refreshing, aromatic notes.
When made into ice cubes, Svalbarði’s softness and delicateness helps to bring out the aromas and flavors of Vodka as well.
Some great eats to pair up with this water would be oysters, foie gras, lighter cheeses, fried shrimp and grilled seafood in general. Drink something unique, amazing, pure and fresh for your next celebration.
For more information on Svalbarði, please visit svalbardi.com
And for more great water and wine pairings, stay in touch with your water sommelier and wine sommelier, Jessica Altieri on Instagram @winechanneltv