Pol Roger to use robot to reach century-old buried ChampagneBy Patrick Schmitt
Such is the risk to human life of reaching a stash of Champagne trapped beneath Pol Roger’s cellars since 1900, the producer is planning to use a robot.
The Champagne became sealed off in an underground cellar in February 1900, when, after heavy rains, Pol Roger’s cellar on the Avenue de Champagne in Epernay caved in, bringing down both levels of its facility, and destroying as well as burying the equivalent of two million bottles of Champagne – barrels of wine were lost as well as bottles.
However, in February last year, Pol Roger unearthed 26 bottles of in-tact Champagne, which are believed to come from the 1898 vintage, having used sonar technology to detect a cavity beneath the producer’s site on the Avenue de Champagne.
It then excavated the area with great care, ahead of plans to build a new packing facility about the historic cellar.
As reported by the drinks business last year, Pol Roger not only discovered some unbroken bottles, but reported that they are potable, with the corks still in tact.
Laurent d’Harcourt, president of the house, also told db that it was highly likely there was more nineteenth century Champagne lurking beneath the ground level, but, before Pol Roger investigates further, it must secure the walls and ceiling of the existing cellar, which has been sealed off since the collapse almost 120 years ago.
More recently, Laurent told db that he has spent the past year enlisting various “specialists” to look at the possibility of excavating deeper into Pol Roger’s historic underground cellars.
“One year ago we found 26 bottles, but then we stopped everything because it was becoming dangerous, but we know that 1-1.5 million bottles disappeared, so we want to find the right way to find more,” he said.
However, he said that no-one wanted to risk their life for such an endeavour, meaning that the only solution would be to send in a machine, once Pol Roger has done more to secure the ceiling of its nineteenth century cellars.
“We need to find a way so there is no human risk, so we will be making a tunnel, with protection, and then sending in a robot,” he told db.