Want Shipwreck Champagne at a Fraction of the Price? Look No Further

Posted April 22, 2015

Steve Unwin


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If your friends are anything like ours, chances are your Facebook feed has been buzzing with 170-year-old Champagne tasting notes. The bubbly treasure trove, consisting of bottles from Veuve Cliquot, Heidsieck, and Juglar, was discovered at the bottom of the Baltic sea in 2010. Later, in 2012, a portion of the find was auctioned off, with bottles fetching as much as $43,000. Just recently, Philippe Jeandet, a professor of food biochemistry at the University of Reims, published a detailed chemical analysis of the tiny sample he was fortunate enough to receive.

With that study has come a laundry list of provocative tasting notes from “fruits, truffles, smoke, and honey”, to “grilled”, “wet hair”, and “animal notes”. Obviously any of us would swear any number of oaths on Madame Cliquot’s grave just to get a whiff of the stuff, but for those of us without forty-three grand to blow at Christie’s, here are some bottles that will get you close.

Veuve Clicquot Brut

Most of the wine discovered in the wreckage of the twin-masted schooner was none other than the product of Madame Cliquot herself. At almost 1/1000th of the price, this isn’t a bad way to experience both the lineage, and the beautiful floral notes that were said to have persisted through the centuries.

1995 Charles Heidsieck Blanc De Millenaires

The venerated Heidsiek House was yet another brand found on the ill-fated merchant ship. Now we’ll grant you that 1995 is a slightly less impressive number than 1841, but to be fair, a lot of that is because 1996 really stole the spotlight. That said, if you’re willing to accept a couple of centuries leeway, you can still experience a 96-point rated, utterly spectacular vintage Champagne that shares its genetics with the very wines making headlines today.

2002 Jacquesson Brut Vintage

Ok now this is just a whole different level of nerdy-awesome. A small portion of the bottles were discovered to have come from the now-defunct house Juglar. This is beyond exciting as Julgar’s cellars were absorbed into Jacquesson’s in 1829. That means those bottles are likely the oldest of the bunch. Given that there isn’t much chance any of us will get our paws on a bottle of Julgar, we must turn to their successor, Jacquesson, itself a rarity as it claims to be the oldest surviving independent Champagne house. The 2002 is no slouch, either, offering a nose of exotic spices, and a palate of pastry, white fruit, and distinguished minerality.

In addition to a solid 170 years spent in near-perfect conditions, these wines all had something on the order of 15x the dosage (added sugar) of any normal brut you’d find these days. Clocking in at an astonishing 150g of sugar per liter of Champagne, that is more than a can of Coke. With that in mind, we highly discourage dumping simple syrup into any of the wines above… but if you do, definitely let us know how it goes!



Product Label.

Veuve Clicquot Brut

88 Cellar Tracker

Item: 17380

750 mL

Retail: $67.99

$45.09 per btl

Item: 25059

750 mL

Retail: $224.99

$174.97 per btl

Product Label.

Jacquesson Brut Magnum

93 Wine Spectator

Item: 81417


Retail: $379.99

$264.71 per btl