Article – Shipwrecked champagne uncorked

Picture of Richard Juhlin

Richard Juhlin

INTRO Wednesday, the 17th of November will always be a day to remember for champagne lovers around the world. It was the day when the nearly 180-year-old shipwrecked bottles were opened and the worth of the Baltic Sea’s champagne treasure was assessed.

Some think that I live a life of luxury and am a bit spoiled. As I tasted an estimated six million euros worth of shipwrecked champagne in just three days, it is perhaps a bit hard to argue with – but I will still give it a try.

The re-corking of champagne is hardly something I advocate, yet I was appointed as a consultant to the Åland government behind the decision to re-cork all bottles that were found aboard the wreck at Åland. After observing leakage of far too many bottles and as the origin could only be traced through the bottom of the cap, we had no choice.

MARIEHAMN I was flown to Mariehamn, alongside an archaeologist and a technical team from Veuve Clicquot, for three days to re-cork and taste all the 145 recovered bottles. Since it was impossible to let the bottles remain at the bottom of the sea until the occasion for drinking them arises, the bottles that had been stored in individual water baths in the ”nursery” displayed great bottle variation and a lower carbon dioxide content than they had done at the bottom of the sea. Some bottles that appeared perfect had unfortunately allowed seawater to leak in and were undrinkable. The bottles that were in good condition are a fantastic experience for all the senses to encounter.

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