Veuve Clicquot is embarking on an audacious experiment dubbed “Cellar in the Sea”, submerging bottles of its wines into the depths of the sea for several decades. The experiment was inspired by the fortuitous discovery of nearly 50 bottles of Veuve Clicquot from 1839 to 1841 at the bottom the Baltic Sea. Now, this ambitious project will help better understand the champagne ageing process.
In July 2010, a team of divers off the south of the Åland islands between Sweden and Finland discovered an amazing treasure: 168 bottles of champagne, including 47 bottles of Veuve Clicquot from 1839 to 1841 ensconced in a shipwreck that had been underwater for nearly two centuries. Several months later, a tasting of ten of the bottles proved a delightful surprise since the wine was of excellent quality. This was ample motivation for the Champagne house to embark on an innovative investigation into the ageing and maturation of champagne.
“Cellar in the Sea” is a long-term scientific experiment in a controlled environment, reflecting Veuve Clicquot’s ongoing commitment to innovation and excellence. On June 18, a selection of non-vintage Yellow Label (in 75cl and magnum bottles), Vintage Rosé 2004 and demi-sec wines was placed into the Åland Vault underwater wine cellar, a metal cage created specially for the experiment. The wines were sent 40 meters below the water’s surface, almost exactly where the shipwreck was discovered. The absence of light, constant low temperature (4°C) and pressure equivalent to that of the bottle are all essential to conserving wine under optimal conditions, making the depths of the Baltic Sea an ideal “cellar”.
The evolution of the sample will be monitored by Veuve Clicquot chefs de caves, who will also compare them with a duplicate selection kept in the House’s chalk cellars in Reims. As part of this meticulous scientific experiment, samples of the retrieved wines will be tasted by a panel of professionals and compared with the duplicate bottles from the Reims cellars. What’s more, samples of the wines cellared at sea will be sent to the oenological universities of Reims and Bordeaux for technical analyses to discover the ageing secrets of the Baltic Sea.
“Cellar in the Sea” is a truly exceptional initiative that promises exciting discoveries about the ageing cycle of champagne!