Champagne still 'fresh' after nearly two centuries in Baltic

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  • Wednesday 17 November 2010

Two ancient bottles of Champagne found in a wreck off the coast of Finland are still ‘remarkably alive and fresh’ according to Decanter’s Champagne correspondent Essi Avellan MW.

Champagne Juglar

The bottles are part of a cache of 168 bottles found this summer in a wrecked schooner dating from the second quarter of the 19th century, in Finland's Åland archipelago.

At first they were identified as Champagne Juglar, a house which was absorbed into Champagne Jacquesson in 1829.

However a group of experts recorking the bottles yesterday found some of them were Veuve Clicquot non-vintage from the early 1830s.

Finland’s first Master of Wine Essi Avellan MW, editor of FINE Champagne magazine, tasted two bottles which were opened today:

She said, ‘Both the wines were very much alive and remarkably fresh. As expected they were sweet in style, with a surprisingly bright, golden colour and honeyed, toasty and farmyardy aromatics.

‘The Juglar was more harmonious and complete, while Veuve Clicquot’s aroma was overwhelmingly pungent and smoky, but the palate retained a freshness and immense concentration.’

She added, ‘We are very fortunate to have found such a treasure within our borders. Both are venerable Champagnes, allowing us to understand the ancient style of Champagne as well as its phenomenal ageing capacity.

Up to now the oldest existing bottles of Champagne - dating back to 1825 - were kept in the depths of the Perrier-Jouët cellars in Champagne.

The Åland government plans to use the bottles to publicise this small, autonomous island region of Finland.

An auction is planned, together with other wine events. There are also plans to make a special cuvee of Champagne which will have the ancient wine as dosage.

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