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Wine News

Fizz at bottom of ocean

Shiver me timbers - a treasure trove of two centuries-old, but perfectly drinkable, champagne has been found near a shipwreck 180 feet deep in the Baltic. The wreck was located by Swedish divers just off the coast of Aaland, one of a chain of Swedish-speaking, self-governing islands which belong to Finland.

The wine has been preserved in perfect conditions - cold and dark - was said by a local wine expert to taste absolutely fabulous. The champagne was dark golden in colour and smelled of tobacco, but also grape and white fruits, oak and mead, very sweet but still with some acidity.

Experts are 98% certain that the champagne was made in the period 1772-1789 by a company that later became Veuve Cliquot. An anchor on the cork is said to be a sign that only Cliquot used to use. It is thought to belong to a consignment sent to the tsar of Russia by King Louis XVI just before the French revolution. If so, the bottles - at least 30 of them and possibly many more - could be worth millions of pounds at auction. Thus making the bottles the oldest known drinkable champagne beating the 1825 Perrier-Jouet tasted by experts in London last year.

A sample has been sent to Moet & Chandon for analysis. If the period 1772-1789 is confirmed, the wine comes from just before the period when the process of making sparkling wine was fully understood. Not so much yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum - but yo-ho-ho and a bottle of champagne!