Monday, May 30, 2011

From Shipwreck to Charity: 200-Year-Old Champagne

Divers last year could barely believe their eyes when their underwater flashlights revealed 147 of the oldest bottles of champagne in the world. The 200-year-old bottles were preserved in a shipwreck at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. They will be auctioned off next week, with the proceeds going to maritime archaeology and environmental charities.

The underwater shipwreck that housed the bottles is located in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland. In July 2010, the Government of Åland sent a group of divers down after echo locators revealed images of a vessel on the ocean floor.

The ship has been dated to the first half of the 1800’s, according to Reuters. Nevertheless, its interior was surprisingly well-preserved. Inside, marine archaeologists found a brick oven, a cooking pot, plates and a kettle.

The real surprise, though, was when the divers came across a number of bottles embedded in straw. They made sure to take one back with them for further investigation.

What did she have to say about the champagne? Well, it had a bouquet of "very ripe fruit, tones of golden raisins and a clear aroma of tobacco". She went on to add that, “despite the fact that it was so amazingly old, there was a freshness to the wine. It wasn't debilitated in any way.”

The cargo belongs to the Government of Aland, an autonomous territory of Finland. Of the 145 bottles, a few will be put on display in museums. Others will be auctioned off next Friday, June 3.

The bottles are expected to go for upwards of $15,000 apiece. All proceeds that exceed the cost of the underwater mission will be donated to maritime archaeology and efforts to protect the Baltic Sea environment.

For more interesting topics related to archaeology, visit archaeology excavations.

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