19th Century Champagne Shows Seabed Is Perfect Wine Cooler

on 21/04/15 at 11:16 am

Booze News

170-year-old-champagne“Animal notes” and “wet hair” were the terms used to describe 170-year-old champagne hauled up from the bottom of the Baltic Sea in 2010. We now have chemical confirmation that the wine had aged well, but the mystery over how it got there is even murkier.

When the 163 bottles were recovered from 50 metres beneath the waves, seals on the corks showed that the wine had come from champagne houses Veuve Clicquot, Ponsardin, Heidsieck and Juglar (renamed Jacquesson & Fils in 1829). They were estimated to be between 170 and 180 years old.

Three of the Veuve Clicquot bottles were tasted by oenologists – on first opening they described the champagne as “sometimes cheesy”, with “animal notes” and elements of “wet hair”.

Swirling the champagne around in a glass to oxygenate it softened the flavours, which were then deemed to be grilled, spicy, smoky and leathery with fruity and floral notes.

Philippe Jeandet of the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, France, and his colleagues later got their hands on 2-millilitre samples from each bottle, which they ran through a detailed chemical analysis. This showed that the wine had been aged in wooden barrels, probably for six to eight months. That’s consistent with documents left behind by Madame Clicquot, and different from the vineyard’s modern practice of making its champagne in steel containers.