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Divers find 'oldest' champagne in Baltic shipwreck

Saturday, 17 July 2010 - 7:12pm IST | Place: HELSINKI | Agency: Reuters
Champagne experts suspect the strong flavoured beverage might be from the 18th century. If so, it could cost $68,000.
A group of divers exploring a shipwreck in the Baltic Sea have found bottles thought to contain the oldest drinkable champagne in the world, probably dating back to the 18th century.
 
"I picked up one champagne bottle just so we could find the age of the wreck, because we didn't find any name or details that would have told us the name of the ship," diver Christian Ekstrom from Aland told Reuters on Saturday.
 
Experts said the shape of the bottle showed it was from the late 18th century, and the bottle and its contents have been sent to champagne specialists in France to be analysed.
 
"We are 98% sure that it is Veuve Clicquot champagne and that it was probably made between 1772 and 1785," the diver said, adding that the cargo vessel was probably sailing to St Petersburg, the then capital of Russia.
 
The current title of the world's oldest champagne is held by Perrier-Jouet, which has two bottles from 1825. Richard Juhlin, a Swedish champagne specialist, told the newspaper Alandstidningen that he believed the champagne was Veuve Cliquot, and that if it was from the late 18th century, it could cost around 500,000 Swedish crowns ($68,000) a bottle.
 
He said the team found the wine on its first dive and it was not yet known how many more bottles or what other cargo the wreck contained.
 
Because the wreck lies off Aland, an autonomous part of Finland, the local authorities will decide what is to be done with the wreck and the champagne.

Ekstrom and his Swedish diving colleagues opened the bottle and tasted the contents. "It was fantastic. It had a very sweet taste; you could taste oak and it had a very strong tobacco smell. And there were very small bubbles," he said.




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