The higher price record for a bottle of Champagne, before last week audition, was 27.600 euro paid in 2008 for a bottle of 1959 Dom Pérignon.
Before the discovery of the underwater cellar, the oldest drinkable champagne in existence was thought to be an 1825 vintage which is still in the cellar of the Perrier-Jouet house.
Friday, May 17th, in Mariehamn the capital of the Aaland Islands, Finland, two bottles of champagne were auctioned for record prices, in total 54,000 euros. The bottles are part of a load of old champagne and beer were taken up last year from a ship wreck. The ship, discovered in 2007 under 50m of water, is believed to have sunk between 1825 and 1830. The wreck also held a number of intact bottles of the world’s oldest beer.
The oldest Champagne in the world had rested in peace for almost 200 years under the Baltic Sea. 95 145 bottles were found, most of them from the Maison Juglar (cease production in late 1820s), 46 of Veuve Cliquot and 4 of Heidsieck Champagne. The champagne is quite well preserved because they were on horizontal, at a cool temperature in the dark, 50 meters below sea level and many of the bottles had kept their seals. There were no lable on the bottle and experts dated to the early 19th Century.
I was face-to-face to one of those bottles, courtesy of Amorim (Cork Producer). Talking with Carlos de Jesus, the communication and marketing director of major cork producer Amorim, at the LondonInternational Wine Fair (May 2011), he told me about the hard work, consideration and care to developed these so specials corks. “We had to find an ancient bottling machine to insert new corks specially made under those old bottles. All this hard work worth to see that the natural cork had did its job well for nearly 200 years.”_ said Carlos de Jesus. I must say was an exciting experience myself to “meet” one of those bottles. And The bottle itself bought so much attention in the LIWF2011 that it had to had high level security eyes on it and 24×7 body-guard, better saying: bottle-guard :-)
One of the bottles auctioned was from Veuve Clicquot and released on 30,000 euros. The other bottle was from Maison Juglar was sold for 24,000 euros. Both bottles went to a buyer from Singapore who wishes to remain anonymous. The proceeds must benefit charitable purposes, including improving the environment in the Baltic Sea.
Francois Hautekeur, of Veuve Clicquot’s winemaking team, talked of “a toasted, zesty nose with hints of coffee, and a very agreeable taste with accents of flowers and lime-tree…Madame Clicquot herself must have tasted this same batch,” he said, referring to Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, who reigned over the house.
“Great! Wonderful!” exclaimed Richard Juhlin, a Swedish champagne writer who tasted the Cliquot and Juglar. “I think what strikes you the most is that it’s such an intense aroma,” he said. He 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”. He added: “Bottles kept at the bottom of the sea are better kept than in the finest wine cellars.”