‘World’s oldest champagne’ discovered in Finland shipwreck

Vintage bubbly has got wine experts in Finland all in a fizz after what could be the world’s oldest drinkable bottle of champagne was found off the country’s west coast. A team of divers discovered the ancient wine in the waters off the semi-autonomous maritime province of the Aland Islands earlier this month.

Working on a tip from a local fisherman, the group of four divers found a number of bottles in a wrecked boat, 55 metres below the surface. Christian Ekstrom, who led the expedition, has dated the drink from the 1780s due to the shape of the bottles. Several wine experts have since sampled the fizz, all of whom have reportedly been very impressed.

“The wine is amber-coloured and full of rich, mingled aromas,” said Sommelier Ella Grussner Cromwell-Morgan in an interview with Alandstidningen. “There was a lot of ripe fruit, overtones of yellow raisins and plenty of tobacco aroma. This is something one dreams of. I’m very grateful that Christian came to ask my opinion. I still have a little left in my refrigerator which I keep going back to sniff!”

According to Swedish champagne expert Richard Juhlin, the bubbly almost certainly came from the 1722-established French house Veuve Cliquot. If he is correct, Juhlin estimates that each bottle of the sunken treasure could be worth as much as EUR 50,000. Under Aland laws, however, the contents of the shipwreck belong to the province, so it is unlikely that collectors will be able to buy the remaining stash.

At present, the world’s oldest drinkable champagne resides in France with a birth date of 1825. It is not yet known how many bottles remain in the Aland wreck, according to YLE.