Move Over Cristal: "Shipwreck" Champagne Sells For $150k

Posted by - Friday, June 8th, 2012

The archipelago of Aaland sits between Finland and Sweden. It is a collection of 6,757 islands and has a population of just 28,007, as reported by Norden. The isolated group of Finnish islands is reportedly beautiful, but knowledge of the area isn't common, and it had little to bring it into the world spotlight.

Until now...

In 2010, local divers were exploring the wreckage of a schooner at the bottom of the Baltic when they came across 162 bottles of champagne.

Upon further examination, it was revealed that the champagne was over 170 years old and that the ship probably went down sometime between 1825 and 1830. To top off this exciting discovery, 79 of the bottles were perfectly intact and in drinkable condition.

The divers were unable to keep the bottles since maritime law gives the government control over shipwrecks older than 100 years.

Instead, the government made plans to auction off many of the bottles, keeping a few in government possession. Last summer, one of the bottles, a Vueve Clicquot, sold for $37,720, or 30,000 euro.

Today, eleven additional bottles were auctioned off by French-based Artcurial Briest-Poulain-F. Tajan. Of these eleven there were six Juglar, four Vueve Clicquot, and one Heidsieck. The Juglar was a particularly exciting find, as the company went out of business in 1829.

The bottles sold for a total of $156,400, or 125,500 euro.

The divers received none of the profit, but they have brought fame to the small group of islands. One of the men involved, Christian Ekstroem, described the diving experience to Reuters:

“We didn't know what we had found at first. I brought a bottle up and the closer I got to the surface, I had to hold the cork down with my thumb. It popped when I was in the boat, so we poured some into cups. We had no idea how valuable it was.”

Champagne connoisseurs like Richard Juhlin, one of the experts working on the champagne project, have determined that the quality is very good. Under the cold, high pressure atmosphere at the bottom of the Baltic, the bottles remained completely intact and preserved. And champagne makers were eager to get their hands on them.

Proceeds from today's auction will go to a number of charities.

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