The taste test

After hauling in 163 bottles of the legendary Madame Clicquot’s 18th century champagne from the bottom of the Baltic sea, scientists have confirmed that it still maintains the essential characteristics of what champagne is, giving it an ageing period of over 200 years. This is a remarkable discovery that has also been backed up by top oenologists. On initial taste test they described the champagne as “cheesy”, and with both “animal notes” and “wet hair”, but then went on to find that the flavours were much more complex. After a good swirl and time to breathe the oenologists actually found the flavours of the champagneto be spicy, smokey, leathery and with both fruity and floral notes. The bottles were found to be in excellent condition andare some ofthe oldest champagne bottles that have ever been discovered in tact. It is thought that this particular champagne from the iconic Veuve Clicquot vineyard was made between 1782 and 1788. Thisdate rangesignificantly outshines the previous1893 Veuve Clicquot bottle located in Reims,that was being heldon display in the Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin visitor centre.

Lost at sea

Without being certain how these bottles came to be in the depths of the icy Baltic, it is thought that perhaps they were intended for the extravagant tables of the Russian or German Veuve fans, perhaps evenintended for the court of Russian emperor, Nicholas I.What is concrete, however, is that the conditions of having average temperaturesranging between 2-4C, and complete darkness made their watery abode a perfect environment for wine preservation and ageing.

Unfortunately, these particular bottles are no longeravailable for purchase, although onebottle sold in 2011 to an anonymous bidder from Singapore for 30,000 euros ($43,900; £26,700). The auction was held byAcker Merrall & Conditt and took place in Mariehamn, the capital of the autonomous Aaland Islands between Finland and Sweden. This location was chosen as it is believed to benear to the place where the bottles were found, and the purchase wasbelieved to be a record breaker in terms of champagne buying.

Luckily,as a commemorative gesture, Veuve Clicquot have placed 300 new bottles and 50 magnums of champagne in their place. They were submerged to the same loaction as their predecessors and are hoped to achieve similar positive results. Keep your eyes out and you may even be able to serve one at a dinner party in years to come – now that would be a party piece like no other!

Veuve Clicquot visitor’s centre

1place des Droits de l’Homme

51100

Reims

France

+33 (0)3 26 89 53 90

www.veuve-clicquot.com