Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The world's oldest champagne is still drinkable - at a price!

Back in July I mentioned that the oldest known bottles of champagne had been recovered from a wreck beneath the Baltic Sea. Now a couple of them have been opened. Bloomberg reports:

The Aaland authorities only discovered yesterday while recorking some of the bottles that they contained two varieties of Champagne: Veuve Clicquot and Juglar, an old house now part of Jacquesson. While 168 were found, many were broken and others contaminated.

. . .

Both are sweet, as was the custom of the time. The Juglar is deep and rich with notes of orange and raisin, like a Christmas cake. The Veuve is lighter and more floral, with layers of complexity. Both may be 185 years old.

. . .

While the exact age isn’t yet known, marine archeologists estimate the twin-masted schooner on which the bottles were found is from the second quarter of the 19th century. Plates on board were manufactured by Rorstrand porcelain factory between 1780 and 1830, the Aaland Board of Antiquities says on Aaland’s website. The divers also discovered bottles of what may be the world’s oldest beer.

. . .

The champagne was so well preserved because it lay horizontally, under pressure, at a low temperature and in the dark.

At the good-humored tasting today, the flash bulbs popped -- the Champagne corks didn't, because a lot of the fizz has gone out of the bottles. After we did the official tasting, a scrum of onlookers joined in because everyone else wanted a sip.

Aaland plans to auction one bottle of each Champagne in coming months and sell others in the future, said Brit Lundberg, the official in charge of education and culture. Five bottles will be retained and others might be used in a special blend of Champagne.

“It’s difficult to estimate what the two bottles will fetch at auction in Mariehamn because they are unique and it depends who is bidding,” Richard Juhlin, a Champagne expert who led the tasting, said in an interview. The bottles may fetch 100,000 euros ($135,000) each, he said.

There's more at the link, including photographs. Interesting reading for history buffs.

$135,000 for one bottle of shipwrecked champagne??? Well, I suppose if someone has that sort of disposable income . . . but it seems awfully steep to me!


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