Photo: NOAA Photo Library | Flickr
Forget a dimly lit, high-priced cellar. It seems the best champagne these days can be found 20,000 leagues under the sea. Auctioneers last week sold 11 bottles of 170-year-old champagne, discovered in 2010 aboard a shipwrecked schooner off the coast of the Åland islands — a Swedish-speaking, semiautonomous Finnish archipelago.
162 bottles were found aboard the ship, though only 79 were drinkable. Those 79, however, are fetching a fortune on the open market. In total, the 11 bottles — six Juglar’s (defunct since 1829), four Veuve Clicquots, and one Heidsieck — sold 125,000 euros (nearly $188,000). The highest-priced Clicquot was auctioned for 15,000 euros (almost $19,000).
It turns out the bottom of the ocean can actually be the ideal place to store aged, sumptuous bubbly. Cloaked in dim lit, kept horizontally, and stored at high pressure under cold conditions, the bottles were perfectly maintained.
“Despite the fact that it was so amazingly old, there was a freshness to the wine,” sommelier Ella Grussner Cromwell-Morgan told Aalandstidningen newspaper after a 2010 tasting. “It wasn’t debilitated in any way. Rather, it had a clear acidity which reinforced the sweetness.”
All of this comes to show that if you’re looking for the perfect spirit, you might want to try the open seas before you head to the local liquor store.
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