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Jul 18, 2010 03:00 PM

World's oldest champagne found on Baltic seabed, tastes just fine.

"Divers have found 30 bottles of champagne thought to pre-date the French Revolution on the Baltic seabed.

"When they opened one, they found the wine - believed to have been made by Clicquot (now Veuve Clicquot) between 1782 and 1788 - was still in good condition."


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  1. My response is wow! But also I'd like to know more about the ship, where it was headed and whose Champagne it was. Also I'd obviously like to hear an expert's review of the discovered Champagne. "Sweet", "Tobacco", etc doesn't sound like typical Champagne characteristics. But 200 years is a very long time.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chinon00

      Here's another article about the champagne. Experts think the ship was bound for Russia. Also, each bottle could possibly fetch $68,000.00 if drinkable.


    2. "It had a very sweet taste, you could taste oak and it had a very strong tobacco smell. And there were very small bubbles."

      100% BS.
      Just my $0.02

      11 Replies
      1. re: RicRios

        Could be. But bear in mind that this quote comes from a diving instructor, not an oenophile, and his oak and tobacco could be his grasping attempt at describing what a sommelier might render as roasted hazelnuts, burnt brioche, dried fruit, caramel, madeirization, etc. Also, it may have been ineptly translated from Swedish or spoken in Swenglish.

        1. re: carswell

          Wait a couple months to see a big auction house offering (in Hong Kong?) "30 bottles of champagne thought to pre-date the French Revolution".
          Guaranteed high-6 to mid-7 digits estimates.

            1. re: RicRios

              Hong Kong -perfect - where a fool and his money are soon partying.
              I feel badly for the guy who lost his champagne stash, although he probably had more pressing matters to deal with at the moment.

              1. re: RicRios

                I work for a wine auction house and I can tell you that there is NO way these wines will be estimated close to that. Personally I don't even think they'll get the $69k Richard Juhlin suggested, although $25k wouldn't shock me, and he certainly is an expert in the field. (I originally misread the article to think that some non-expert provided that number.)

                The sweetness is certainly consistent with Champagnes bound for Russia, and "tobacco" is not necessarily inconsistent: a Broadbent note on an 1857 Sillery refers to it as "smoky."

            2. re: RicRios

              So, RicRios, you think you know what Champagne made in the 1780s tasted like? Think again, it was like nothing sold as Champagne today. Read the biograhy of the widow Clicquot for a good description of nose, taste and mousse.

              1. re: kaleokahu

                I have no clue what champagne made in the 1780s tasted like.
                However, I do have a fairly good idea of which direction the world spins.

                1. re: RicRios

                  Perhaps. Perhaps not.

                  In the mid-to-late 1990s, bottles of Heidsieck Monopole "Diamant Bleu" Brut Champagne were recovered from a shipwreck bound (IIRC) for Sweden. They found the over a thousand bottles. We imported some of them into the US, and the Champagne was actually quite good.

                  The MAJOR difference (in terms of production) between the Heidsieck and the Clicquot is that, when the Clicquot was produced in the 18th century, virtually all Champagne produced was made in the "Doux" (very sweet) style, rather than what is common today, "Brut" (very dry).

                  1. re: RicRios

                    Ahhh . . . good to see I haven't turned senile yet.


                    "In 1998, the Hiedsieck cuvée called Diamant bleu vintage 1907 was found in the shipwreck of the Swedish freighter Jönköping in the Gulf of Finland, the ship was charted to deliver spirits, via neutral Sweden, to the Imperial Court of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. The ship was torpedoed in 1916 by a German sub during World War I and a majority of the bottles survived in the frigid waters.[1] About 2000 bottles were salvaged from the ship and have been sold at auctions all over the world as a historic novelty."

                    1. re: zin1953

                      Hmm, let me check my math.
                      1907 - 1780 = 127 ? Then multiply auction results by 100.

              2. There was some discussion that the outside pressure and inside pressure kept everything intact. It would be interesting as to how the bottles will hold up once they are removed from the seabed and no longer have the outside pressure stabilizing the bottle's inside pressure given the age and possible decline of the cork, etc.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Scott M

                  I do not know the state of the bottlemaking art in the 1780s, but modern Champagne bottles are rated to 25 atmospheres. What was the depth at which the bottles were found?

                  Full bottles would have only a small ullage, and a traditional cork would be driven/drawn against/into the bottle, so it would not surprise me that bottles would survive intact at or near their final fermentation pressure at great depth. I'm more skeptical about the corks' integrity...


                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    External pressure at the limits of recreational diving would be about 4 atmospheres and about 6-7 for advanced nitrox diving. Not enough to move champagne corks. I get a kick out of watches that advertise water tightness to 100 meters. At that depth one would be a corpse with the correct time on his wrist.

                2. Hello, I have been collecting French Wine Bottles (empty) for over 30 years and I can tell you that the bottle that appears on the BBC video about this story is from 1840 at the earliest and I would probably date it to 1870 ish. Look at the mechanically tooled string rim, in 1780 that would have been a crude piece of molten glass wound round the neck. See my site below.


                  As for corks being marked as the story suggests, again I have never seen a marked cork 1780. The earliest that I have seen are from 1840-50 onwards.

                  All the best

                  Geoffrey luff.

                  1. Update from the New York Times today. A snippet:

                    "Richard Juhlin, a Swedish author of numerous books about Champagne, said he noted “great variations” in the first 10 bottles tasted, “from seawater to great stuff.” After overseeing the recorking, he said both Juglar and Veuve Clicquot “had in common a mature aroma, almost of cow cheese, Brie or Vacherin, almost too strong,” combined with a “liqueur-like sweetness.” Of the two Champagnes, he found the Juglar, “a little more intense, bigger, the French would say, ‘rustique,’ ” but said they both compared favorably to some of the best Champagnes today."


                    9 Replies
                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      Le Parisien (a Paris newspaper) reported yesterday that the bottles are expected to bring as much as 100,000 Euros each at auction.

                      (sorry, available only to subscribers, so I can't link it)

                      So far everyone they've interviewed who has tried it has raved about it (apparently they sampled some of each bottle as it was recorked to see if it was indeed drinkable) - rich fruits with a long lingering aftertaste that is sublime.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        So underwater champage has more value than an underwater house...

                        1. re: Veggo

                          ah, but the 'underwater' part is rectified so much easier with the champagne....

                        2. re: sunshine842

                          So let me see:
                          Above ( 07/19/2010 ) I said "Guaranteed high-6 to mid-7 digits estimates."
                          And guess what? 30 x 100,000 = 3,000,000 well within my estimates.
                          I didn't know I had such a talent for this BS.

                          1. re: RicRios

                            Let's just say your talents are expansive.

                            1. re: maria lorraine

                              Let's hope the Saudi princes buy it all.

                          2. re: sunshine842

                            There is no chance those bottles sell for EU100,000.

                            1. re: craig_g

                              take it up with AFP:


                              In French, use Google Translate if you need it.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                Yes, I've seen those claims. All I can say to that is that I make my living appraising wine for auction, and it's my professional opinion that it will not hit close to that.