18 Jul 2010

'Oldest champagne' found in Baltic shipwreck

12:34 pm on 18 July 2010

Divers have recovered 30 bottles of what is believed to be the world's oldest drinkable champagne.

The bottles, thought to pre-date the French Revolution, were found in a shipwreck on the Baltic seabed.

Diving instructor Christian Ekstrom and Swedish diving colleagues took one of the bottles to the surface, where they opened it and tasted the wine.

They found the champagne - believed to have been made by Clicquot (now Veuve Clicquot) between 1782 and 1788 - was still in good condition.

Mr Ekstrom told the Reuters news agency it was very sweet, tasted of oak, had a strong tobacco smell and very small bubbles.

The bottle has been sent to France for analysis, and if confirmed, it would be the oldest drinkable champagne in the world.

The wine was perfectly preserved because of the conditions of dark and cold on the seabed.

If the bottles do come from the 1780s, that would make them around 40 years older than the current record-holder, a bottle of Perrier-Jouet from 1825.

Wine experts estimate each bottle would fetch about $US69,000.