The shipwreck and its cargo are the property of the Åland Islands (NB: don’t worry, I had to Google them as well). The origin and name of the schooner remains a mystery, although the Åland government is carrying out extensive research in order to piece together its final voyage.
Whereas a number of the bottles are being kept for museum purposes, the rest will be auctioned off over the next few years, with all proceeds going towards Baltic marine conservation.
162 bottles in total (79 of them still drinkable) were removed from the shipwreck, found on the seabed between Finland and Sweden, in 2010. During restoration, the corks revealed the champagne to have been produced by three different houses: Juglar (now defunct), Veuve-Clicquot and Heidsieck.
Of the 11 bottles to be offered for auction this June, 6 come from Juglar, a firm which disappeared in 1829; 4 from Veuve-Clicquot; and one from Heidsieck. Expert analysis suggests they date from 1841-50. Wine experts at the auction house have assigned an estimate of €10,000 (around $12,800) to each of these incredibly rare bottles.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Why would anyone want to spend that amount of money on wine that probably (by now) tastes like witch-piss!?!?”
Well, due to the constant pressure, darkness and temperature on the sea-bed, the Champagne has reportedly retained exceptional its original characteristics extremely well! As world-renowned champagne expert Richard Juhlin states: “…the bottles prove that champagne possesses an undeniable ability to age perfectly. No other wine could have survived in such conditions and developed such aromas. I have come across champagnes which tasted fresher or more elegant, but here the aromatic intensity is quite superb – the most powerful I have ever tasted, and incredibly long in the mouth.”