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Shipwreck Champagne fetches ‘record’ price

A 200-year-old bottle of Champagne recovered from a Baltic shipwreck has fetched a record price at auction.

The bottle – identified as Veuve Clicquot– was part of a cache of 168 bottles found last summer in a wrecked schooner dating from 1825-30 in Finland’s Åland archipelago.

It was sold to an anonymous bidder from Singapore for €30,000 (£26,700) by New York auction house Acker Merrall and Condit last Friday in Mariehamn, the capital of the autonomous Åland archipelago between Finland and Sweden, near where the bottles were found.

Acker said the same buyer paid €24,000 for another bottle of Champagne from the cache, from the now defunct Juglar house.

Finnish Champagne expert Essi Avellan MW, editor of FINE Champagne magazine, who tasted some of the bottles when they were opened last November, said she was astonished by their freshness.

‘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.’

While the auction house claims the price paid for the Veuve Clicquot is a record, this has not been independently confirmed.

Acker has claimed previous records for rare Champagne: in March 2009 it sold a bottle of 1928 Krugin Hong Kong for HK$164,560 (€15,900), and in 2008 two bottles of Dom Perignon Rosé 1959 were sold for £43,000, or about €27,600 each.

According to the BBC, the Åland authorities want to turn the Champagne auction into an annual event to boost tourism.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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