Usually when treasure is brought up from the bottom of the sea, one expects to see gold coins and maybe an anchor or two.
This past summer, however, an amazing cache of 168 champagne bottles were discovered beneath the cold waters of the Baltic Sea, south of Aland, a Finnish controlled collection of over 6,000 small islands.
The first sign that some of champagne had survived the ancient shipwreck occured when one of the champagne bottles was brought to the surface. The difference in pressure above water caused one of the champagne corks to pop.
The startled diver holding the bottle quickly took a drink from the overflowing champagne, expectating a bitter or at best salty sea taste. To his amazement, it was sweet and fresh.
The next question was which legendary champagne house could claim these, the world’s oldest drinkable champagnes, as their own. The crew hurriedly resealed the bottle as best they could and called on the services of Finnish sommelier Ella Grussner Cromwell-Morgan to evaluate the remaining champagne.
It was then discovered, while examining the logos on the recovered corks, that the bottles held two varieties of classic French champagne: Veuve Clicquot and Juglar, an older house, now part of Jacquesson.
Also tasted by the few lucky journalists present, both champagnes were pronounced as rather sweet, just like the most popular style of champagne two centuries ago.
And though much of the fizz traditionally associated with champagne was gone, everyone declared the the wines were still delightful.
The government of Aland, which claims the salvage rights over the wreak, now plans to auction one bottle of each Champagne in the coming months and possible sell others in the future, according to Brit Lundberg, Deputy Minister of Education and Culture.
Five bottles will be retained while others may be used in a future champagne blend that can only de described as liquid history.
If you plan to attend the auction, bring a major back account as the estimated price per rare bottle is projected to be $135,000!
Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2010