This week wine professionals tasted the 170 year old Champagne found in a shipwreck on the bottom of the Baltic Sea off the coast of the Aland Islands. The first bottle will be auctioned off in 2011 and is expect to sell for about $90,000, far higher than the $21,000 paid for a 1928 Krug last year.
Earlier this year we reported that 30 bottles of old Champagne were discovered by divers, who brought one bottle to the surface to taste. The bottles have now literally surfaced, and they total 168 in number.
The tasters reported the Champagne as “fit to drink” with a very strong, intense bouquet that shows prominent notes of peat and tobacco. The palate is smoky with notes of linden blossom and chanterelle mushrooms. The Champagne has “an intense golden hue with grey-brown reflections.” The floor of the Baltic Sea was in fact an ideal wine cellar with its low oxygen, absence of light, and constant cold temperatures of 5˚ Celsius. A few months ago Dominique Demarville, cellarmaster at Veuve Clicquot, also tasted the Champagne and was impressed with its quality, freshness, and good acidity. The wine is also very sweet, with about 100 grams of residual sugar, the norm for the time.
From the shape of the bottles and corks, researchers have determined the Champagne comes from two houses – Clicquot (now Veuve Clicquot) and Juglar, a now defunct brand. The Clicquot dates between 1832 and 1844, while the Juglar is from the 1829 vintage and possibly earlier.
Of the 168 bottles found by the divers, about a third were ruined by the leakage of sea water into the bottles. But about 50 of the bottles are of “the very highest quality”.
The Champagne is the property of the Aland Islands, located between Sweden and Finland. The islands belong to Finland, but the residents speak Swedish. The Aland Government plans to auction the bottles off over many years. Revenue from the sales will be an important source of the government’s revenue. This is a revolutionary new way to raise government revenue and avoid fiscal crisis. Perhaps there’s a secret cache of Thomas Jefferson’s old wines under the US Treasury Building that could be sold to lower the national debt.