Tasting Notes on 200-Year Old Champagne Salvaged From Baltic
Remember the Finnish divers who recently discovered several crates of champagne and beer from a sunken ship that had been at the bottom of the Baltic Sea for nearly two centuries?
Well....turns out that it tasted pretty good.
The divers first discovered the champagne was drinkable when changing pressures caused the cork to pop off one of the bottles, and one diver decided to drink. He expected to taste seawater that had seeped into the bottle over the last 200 years, but was shocked to discover the wine still tasted fine.
The divers all had some of the ancient wine, and then resealed the wine and brought it to wine expert Ella Grussner Cromwell-Morgan. Here's how she described it: "Despite the fact that it was so amazingly old, there was a freshness to the wine. It wasn't debilitated in any way. Rather, it had a clear acidity which reinforced the sweetness. Finally, a very clear taste of having been stored in oak casks."
Other descriptions that came out of a recent official tasting range from "lime blossoms, coffee, chanterelles" to " yeast, honey and...a hint of manure." Ha!
The champagne was definitely significantly sweeter than what we're used to today. While a modern bottle has about 9 grams of sugar, a typical bottle in the 1830s had 100 grams of sugar.
The divers discovered the wreck just south of Aaland, a Finland-controlled archipelago of some 6,500 small islands in the Baltic Sea. Inside the sunken schooner, they found 168 bottles of champagne and an undisclosed amount of bottles of beer. The ship itself likely dates back to the second quarter of the 19th century, making its cargo almost certainly the oldest alcoholic drinks in existence. By comparison, the oldest wines in private hands are only thought to date back to the very end of the 1800s.
And what about the beer? It was as well-preserved as the wine. When one of the bottles cracked open on board their ship, the divers saw the liquid froth up just like a new beer would, indicating the yeast was somehow still alive.