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Jussi Nukari  /  AP
The world's leading champagne expert Richard Juhlin samples one of the 168 bottles of champagne salvaged from a 200-year-old shipwreck in the waters off the Aland Islands near Finland.
updated 11/17/2010 11:54:11 AM ET 2010-11-17T16:54:11

An accent of mushrooms merged with sweet notes of honey in a sampling Wednesday of what's been billed as the world's oldest champagne, salvaged from a shipwreck in the Baltic Sea.

An expert who tasted the vintage bubbly was lyrical, detecting hints of chanterelles and linden blossom.

An Associated Press reporter, who also sampled a bottle, found only a slight fizz and flavors of yeast and honey.

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The champagne — of the brands Veuve Clicquot and the now defunct Juglar — was recovered from a shipwreck discovered in July near the Aland Islands, between Sweden and Finland. A total of 168 bottles were raised in the salvage operation, officials of the semiautonomous Finnish archipelago told reporters on Wednesday.

"All bottles are not intact but the majority are in good condition," said Britt Lundeberg, Aland's culture minister.

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The divers originally said the bottles were believed to be from the 1780s but experts later dated the champagne to the early 19th century. The exact years have not been established.

French champagne house Perrier-Jouet, a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard, has earlier stated that their vintage from 1825 is the oldest recorded champagne still in existence.

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After a presentation of the diving operation, an archaeologist wearing white gloves presented one bottle of Juglar and another of Veuve Clicquot to expert Richard Juhlin, who sampled both in front of scores of journalists.

"Great! Wonderful!" he exclaimed. Then he paused.

"I think what strikes you the most is that it's such an intense aroma," he continued. "It's so different from anything you've tasted before."

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About 20 other people, including an AP reporter, were also given a chance to sample one of the two bottles. The AP got three mouthfuls of Juglar, a cloudy yellow liquid with tiny pieces of cork and just a few bubbles.

The dominant flavors were yeast and mushrooms, with sweet undertones of honey.

Veuve Clicquot confirmed that experts analyzing the branding of the corks "were able to identify with absolute certainty" that at least three of the recovered bottles were Veuve Clicquot.

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The champagne house, founded in 1772, said the branding featured a comet, added to pay tribute to one that crossed the skies of Champagne in 1811 "and was rumored to be the cause of a harvest of remarkable quality."

Francois Hautekeur, of Veuve Clicquot's winemaking team, described the champagne as "a toasted, zesty nose with hints of coffee, and a very agreeable taste with accents of flowers and lime-tree."

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Juhlin found it Chardonnay-like.

"Surprisingly for me the Veuve Clicquot has a lot of green notes," he said. "Among the strongest are linden blossoms and lime peels."

Some of the bottles will be sold at an auction, where Juhlin said they could fetch more than $70,000 apiece.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explainer: $25,000 sundae? 12 expensive eats

  • Image: Frozen Haute Chocolate
    Even in the midst of a recession, some restaurants cater to the tastes of the ultra-rich.

    From a $175 burger to an ice cream treat that can melt your bank account, check out some of the world's priciest menu items.

    Warning: These foods are not for the frugal.

    Video: Kathie Lee and Hoda talk pricey foods

  • The 12-inch Luxury Pizza

    Image: The 12-inch Luxury Pizza

    The 12-inch Luxury Pizza at Nino’s Bellissima in New York City costs a whopping $1,000, which breaks down to $125 a slice.

    The restaurant needs 24 hours' notice to create the pie because it is topped with six types of caviar, which have to be specially ordered.

    In addition, the pizza includes lobster, creme fraiche and chives.

  • La Madeline au Truffle

    Image: La Madeline au Truffle
    Knipschildt Chocolatier

    Two bucks might get you a chocolate bar at the drugstore, but you have to come with a lot more sugar for a taste of La Madeline au Truffle from Knipschildt Chocolatier in Norwalk, Conn.

    The chocolate truffles go for $250 a pop about $2,600 for a pound.

    The confection boasts high quality ingredients including French Valrhona chocolate, fresh cream, pure Italian truffle oil and French Perigord truffle, and is crafted through an arduous process.

  • Richard Nouveau burger

    Image: Richard Nouveau burger

    Can a burger break the bank? Not if you're dining off the dollar menu.

    But a couple of $175 Richard Nouveau burgers from the Wall Street Burger Shoppe in New York City might do the trick.

    This swanky sammy includes gold flakes, black truffles, seared foie gras and aged Gruyere cheese accompanying 10 ounces of Kobe beef.

  • Mac 'n' cheese

    Image: Mac 'n' cheese

    Forget that boxed blue stuff.

    If you've got money to burn, Melisse restaurant in Santa Monica, Calif., serves up a mac 'n' cheese that costs $95.

    The dish uses expensive white truffles, fresh tagliatelle and brown butter truffle froth.

    It's offered only during truffle season, from October through December.

  • Kobe beef steak

    Image: Kobe beef steak

    Tokyo's Aragawa is one of the city's most famous — and expensive — restaurants.

    A serving of steak costs $368, and the price reflects the origins of the meat.

    The beef, commonly called Kobe, comes from the Tajima-ushi breed of Wagyu cattle and is considered a delicacy.

    But big bucks alone won't get you in the door at this restaurant, as seating is reserved for exclusive clientele.

  • Buddha Jumps Over the Wall soup

    Image: Buddha Jumps Over the Wall soup

    Kai Mayfair in London dubs itself the "home of the world's most expensive soup" for its $165 Buddha Jumps Over the Wall soup.

    The soup is made from shark fin — a controversial ingredient because shark finning is loathed by animal activists — Chinese mushrooms, sea cucumber, dried scallops, chicken, ginseng and gold.

    To order this dish, customers need to give the restaurant five days' notice.

  • Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata

    Imgae: Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata

    Looking for the breakfast of champions?

    You can drop $1,000 on the Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata at Norma's at the Le Parker Meridien hotel in New York City.

    It has 10 ounces of Sevruga caviar, which can retail for $80 to $170 an ounce.

  • Chocolate Variation

    Image: Chocolate Variation

    Mezzaluna, a restaurant in Thailand, holds the title of serving one of the most expensive meals ever, at $30,000 a head, in 2007.

    The restaurant also boasts one of the priciest dessert menus in the world and includes the Chocolate Variation for $640.

    The dessert includes champagne sorbet made from Cristal, and a slice of chocolate cake with edible gold and Perigord truffle.

  • Sultan's Golden Cake

    Image: Sultan's Golden Cake

    If you're in the mood to be treated like royalty, the Ciragan Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, offers the Sultan's Golden Cake for the princely sum of $1,000.

    The dessert takes three days to make and has figs, quince, apricot and pears marinated in rum for two years.

    In addition, it's topped with caramel, black truffles and edible gold.

  • Steak-and-mushroom pie

    Image: Steak-and-mushroom pie

    Chef Spencer Burge of Fence Gate Inn in the U.K. created a steak-and-mushroom pie that sells for $12,500.

    It's made from Wagyu beef, matsutake mushrooms, black truffles and two bottles of 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, worth $6,800.

  • Frozen Haute Chocolate

    Image: Frozen Haute Chocolate

    Serendipity 3 in New York City was known for its Golden Opulence ice cream sundae, which sets customer back a cool $1,000.

    But in 2007, owner Stephen Bruce set out to get a Guinness world record for most expensive dessert for the $25,000 Frozen Haute Chocolate.

    What makes it so pricey? It includes a blend of 28 cocoas, is infused with five grams of edible 23-karat gold and served in a goblet lined with edible gold.

    Customers even walk away with souvenirs — an 18-karat gold bracelet with diamonds and the gold and diamond-crusted spoon and goblet set.

  • Hot dog

    Image: World's most expensive hot dog
    Liz Steger
    Serendipity 3 is also famous for it's $69 foot-long frank — the world’s most expensive hot dog according to Guinness.

    It's served on a pretzel roll toasted in white truffle butter. The all-beef sausage is grilled in white truffle oil and topped with duck foie gras, caramelized Vidalia onions, heirloom tomato ketchup and Dijon mustard.

Video: Divers recover, sample extremely vintage bubbly

  1. Transcript of: Divers recover, sample extremely vintage bubbly

    LESTER HOLT, anchor: Divers have recovered what may be the world's oldest champagne, and it's apparently still good to drink. Thirty bottles found in a shipwreck could date back to the 18th century. After popping the cork on one bottle, the crew reported there were still plenty of bubbles and a sweet taste. Experts say each bottle could bring about $60,000 at auction.


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