18 July 2010

The Ultimate Shipwreck Discovery: Vintage Veuve

As a firm believer in bubbly, the news of a Swedish diving team discovering the estimated 230 year-old champagne in the Baltic Sea has been peaking my interest, for the majority of the day. Shipwrecks are cool, shipwrecks loaded with delicious champagne- win. The dark and cold conditions of the 180 ft deep wreck are credited for the successful preservation of the wine.

Without a label, research has commenced in determining the origin of the bottles. The minimal visibly in the depths of the wreck have also posed issues, as the divers were unable to locate the name of the ship. However, certain clues have been fruitful. The cork has the tell-tale Veuve Clicquot anchor and the Juclar label, pointing the origin to Andorra. According to records, the first Veuve produced was bottled in 1772 and laid to vintage for ten years.

Given these details, the bubbly cannot have been produced before 1782, nor can it be from after 1788-89, when the French Revolution disrupted the production. Regardless, samples have also been sent to Moet, who have further cemented the suspicion that the bottles are Veuve. The bottles are thought to fetch a price of $60,000, though the speculation that they may have been sent by King Louis XVI to the Russian Imperial Court, could up the price to nearly $1 million (there is record of a delivery which did not reach their destination).

Wine expert Ella Gruessner Cromwell-Morgan has had the pleasure of tasting the find. In her exploration, she noted, "I still have a glass in my fridge and keep going back every five minutes to take a breath of it. I have to pinch myself to believe it's real...There's a lot of tobacco, but also grape and white fruits, oak and mead...it's really surprising, very sweet but still with some acidity."

You may also be interested in the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic.