World's oldest champagne uncorked

Nov 17, 2010
As the champagne was poured, a thick, nose-wrinkling bouquet could be smelled (AFP: Jonathan Nackstrand)

Wine experts have popped the corks of two bottles of champagne salvaged from the bottom of the Baltic Sea, where they had lain in a sunken ship for nearly 200 years.

On stage in front of some 100 journalists and wine enthusiasts gathered in the capital of Finland's island province of Aaland, they eased the fragile corks from the dark brown bottles - one from the house of Veuve-Clicquot and the other from the now extinct house of Juglar.

As the contents were poured into rows of waiting glasses, a thick, nose-wrinkling bouquet could be smelled several metres away.

"Bottles kept at the bottom of the sea are better kept than in the finest wine cellars," one of the world's foremost champagne experts, Richard Juhlin, told reporters.

Mr Juhlin described the Juglar as "more intense and powerful, mushroomy," and the Veuve-Clicquot as more like Chardonnay, with notes of "linden blossoms and lime peels".

"Madame Clicquot herself must have tasted this same batch," Francois Hautekeur, a Veuve-Clicquot representative, said, referring to Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, who reigned over the famous house.

The historic estate announced yesterday it had discovered that three or four bottles of its produce were found among the 168 salvaged bottles.

Mr Hautekeur and other employees of the winemaker have been assisting Aaland historians in identifying and dating the champagne, which originates from the second quarter of the 19th century, making it probably the world's oldest.

Replicating history

The wreck also held an undisclosed number of bottles of what is believed to be the world's oldest drinkable beer.

The Aaland authorities intend to sell some of it to brewers who can recreate it from the same yeast root.

"I don't care so much about the champagne," Christian Ekstroem, the diver who discovered the wreck's cargo, said.

" we can only sell or drink up, but ... we can use the beer to produce something unique and local. It's historically meaningful."

Mr Ekstroem, in addition to being the province's foremost diver, is also the manager of a pub for a local microbrewery, called Stallhagen.

He said one of the beer cracked open on the boat's deck, and the dark, ale-like liquid frothed up like any fresh brew, indicating the yeast was incredibly still alive.

He has tasted the beer and says he would be extremely disappointed if the authorities in the autonomous Finnish province did not give Stallhagen the opportunity to produce the beer locally.

Explore further: Divers sure of new finds from 'ancient computer' shipwreck

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Divers find 200-year old champagne in Baltic wreck

Jul 20, 2010

Now that's some vintage bubbly. Divers have discovered what is thought to be the world's oldest drinkable champagne in a shipwreck in the Baltic Sea, one of the finders said Saturday. They tasted the one bottle ...

Champagne bottle gets green makeover

Sep 14, 2010

Go to Google looking for "green wine," and you'll be greeted with a flood of information on how the global wine industry is taking steps to green its grapes, bottles, processes and more. Many wineries are eschewing pesticides ...

Wine in a box? Think 'good' not 'gauche'

Jun 04, 2009

In a surprise discovery that may help boxed wine shake off its image as a gauche alternative to bottles, scientists in Canada are reporting that multilayer aseptic cartons (a.k.a. ‘boxes’) may help reduce ...

Japanese plan to brew 'space beer'

May 28, 2008

A Japanese brewery Tuesday said it was planning the first "space beer," using offspring of barley once stored at the International Space Station.

Recommended for you

'Hidden Treasure of Rome' project unveiled

3 hours ago

For more than a century, hundreds of thousands of historical artifacts dating back to before the founding of Rome have been stored in crates in the Capitoline Museums of Rome, where they have remained mostly untouched. Now, ...

NOAA team reveals forgotten ghost ships off Golden Gate

7 hours ago

A team of NOAA researchers today confirmed the discovery just outside San Francisco's Golden Gate strait of the 1910 shipwreck SS Selja and an unidentified early steam tugboat wreck tagged the "mystery wreck." ...

Long lost Roman fort discovered in Gernsheim

8 hours ago

In the course of an educational dig in Gernsheim in the Hessian Ried, archaeologists from Frankfurt University have discovered a long lost Roman fort: A troop unit made up out of approximately 500 soldiers ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ThanderMAX
not rated yet Nov 18, 2010
Was it a invitation only event?