The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Century-old Champagne recovered from shipwreck sells at NZ auction

A bottle of 100-year-old Champagne that was salvaged from the wreck of the Jönköping has been sold by The Wine Auction Room this week.

The 1907 Heidsieck & Co Monopole Goût Americain Champagne was recovered from the Jönköping in 1998 and was one of 24 bottles originally sold by Christie’s (London). 

Heidsieck Monopole Gout American 1907 is reportedly the world’s most expensive Champagne. It is still available to this day, though in tiny quantities and rarely seen.  

A New Zealand buyer purchased bottle #1392, complete with Certificate of Genuineness, from The Wine Auction Room on Tuesday night.

“Auctions are a great way for people to secure hard-to-get wines, but the provenance of this Champagne really did demonstrate how hard-to-get some wines are,” says Reece Warren, auctioneer and owner of the Wine Auction Room.

“Both our vendor and successful bidder are thrilled and we’re chuffed to keep a slice of international history here in Aotearoa.”

The Jönköping was a Swedish schooner sunk off the Finnish coast by a German U-boat during World War I in 1916.

She had been carrying war material and a shipment of 5,000 bottles of Piper Heidsieck champagne, 67 casks of cognac and 17 barrels of wine destined for the Tsar’s army in Finland when she was intercepted.

In the late ’90s, treasure hunters hoisted the ship to the surface to retrieve 2,000 to 3,000 bottles of Champagne and 14 cognac barrels.

After the salvage, French experts tasted some of the first Champagne to be recovered and labelled it “exceptional quality”, having been preserved by the cold, dark Baltic sea.

Almost all bottles recovered were intact with the corks in place.

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