Divers find wrecked Champagne haul

Thousands of bottles of champagne have been found in a 50-year-old wreck by divers in the English Channel.

The wreck was detected using echo-sounding equipment, and 20,000 half bottles were found buried in silt in its hold.

At an official tasting in London earlier this week, the verdict of Decanter contributor Susie Barrie was, ‘‘Pongy but good’. She added that although there was a hint of a ‘fishy aroma’ she ‘wouldn’t be able to tell it was from a shipwreck’.

Derek Tedder, a member of the salvage team said the highlight for him was ‘hearing the underwater clink of the bottles’. As to the quality of the wine he said, ‘I would not even bat an eyelid if it had been served to me in a bar. ‘

The foundered vessel is a French cargo ship, the Seine, which hit a Russian freighter in a storm and sank in July 1955.

Experts have concluded from stamps on the foil of some of the corks that the Champagne was a commemorative cuvee corked in 1950. The producer is not known.

The diving team has not divulged the exact position of the wreck.

Written by Ettie Neil-Gallacher