Champagne from shipwreck up for grabs

Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:10am EDT
 
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By Leslie Gevirtz

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two bottles of champagne, thought to be about 200 years old and part of a cache of 150 salvaged from a 19th century shipwreck in the Baltic Sea, will be auctioned in Finland in June.

The cache, which belongs to the government of Aland, an archipelago in the Baltic, includes a bottle from the house of Veuve Clicquot and another from Juglar, which closed its doors in the early 19th century.

Acker Merrall & Condit, of New York, will auction the two bottles on June 3.

When the first bottle was recovered from the sunken two-masted schooner dating from about 1780-1830, Swedish champagne writer Richard Juhlin estimated it would fetch about 500,000 Swedish krona ($82,000).

"We didn't know if it was going to be anything drinkable," Ella Grussner Cromwell-Morgan, a sommelier who lives on Aland, said in a telephone interview about the first bottle.

Wine experts estimated from the corks and the hand-blown bottles that the wines were produced between 1811 and 1831.

"Most likely they're older than that, because in those days they kept wine stored for 10-12 years in barrels before they shipped it," said Christian Erikson, the diver who discovered the cache.

Erikson, a friend of Cromwell-Morgan, brought the first bottle to her.   Continued...

 
<p>Christian Ekstrom, the diver that found the world's oldest champagne is pictured with a bottle of it in this photograph made available to Reuters, April 25, 2011. Two bottles of champagne, part of a cache of about 150 that were salvaged from a 19th century shipwreck in the Baltic Sea, will be auctioned in Finland in June. REUTERS/Daniel Eriksson/Handout</p>