19th June, 2014 by Patrick Schmitt
Veuve Clicquot has submerged a selection of its Champagnes into the Baltic as part of a 50-year ageing experiment dubbed the Cellar in the Sea.
Lowering Veuve into the Baltic
The Champagnes were lowered into the water yesterday close to the Åland shipwreck discovery almost exactly four years ago, where a stash of 47 bottles of Veuve Clicquot from 1839 and 1841, destined for lavish Russian Imperial court, were recovered.
Veuve Clicquot has named the underwater Champagne cellar the Åland Vault, and filled it with non-vintage Yellow Label (in 75cl and magnum bottles), Vintage Rosé 2004 and demi-sec wines.
The Champagnes have been sent 40 meters below the water’s surface, where their progress will be monitored by Veuve Clicquot cellar masters, who will also watch over duplicates of all the selected wines at the maison’s chalk cellars in Reims.
The Åland Vault has been submerged close to the shipwreck discovery to attempt to recreate the same ageing enviroment, which ensured that the bottles of Veuve from the nineteenth century were still drinkable, and had even retained a slight fizz.
The Baltic offers unique conditions with its poor salinity (20 times less than in the ocean) and a constant temperature of 4°C throughout the year.
The submersion depth of 40 meters will prevent any seaweed attaching itself to the bottles to avoid the risk of an iodine taste appearing in the wines.
Veuve Clicquot plans to retrieve some wines from the sea on a regular basis and conduct comparative tastings with the duplicate bottles from the cellars in Reims in the presence of a panel of professional tasters.
In addition, samples of the retrieved wines will be sent to the Oenological Universities of Reims and Bordeaux to undergo technical analyses to discover the ageing secrets of the Baltic Sea.
Veuve Clicquot is not the only Champagne house to experiment with ageing fizz in the sea.
In July 2013, 600 bottles of Drappier Brut Nature and 60 bottles of Grande Sendrée 2005 were lowered into Brittany’s Saint-Malo bay to study the effect of the tide and water pressure on Champagne maturation, although this experiment followed previous under-water ageing trials involving Champagnes from Louis Roederer.
Veuve Clicquot’s Åland Vault