Oldest champagne-world record set by an 1825 Perrier-Jouet
EPERNAY, France -- Two remaining 1825 bottles of Perrier-Jouet champagne had always been stored in the same position, at a constant temperature of 11C-setting the world record for the Oldest champagne .
Photo: When the historic Champagne was bottled, George IV was on the British throne. The last King of France, Charles X, was crowned in 1825 at Reims Cathedral.
( enlarge photo )
The oldest wines had been stored in the same spot in Perrier-Jouët ’s cellars, 70ft underground at a constant temperature of 11C (52F). Perrier-Jouët has two more 1825 bottles in the cellar. “And we’re not opening them in the near future,” Mr Cavil said.
12 of the wine industry's top tasters had been given the rare chance to give their verdict on the world's oldest bottle of Champagne.
Only two bottles now remain of the Perrier-Jouët 1825 Vintage, recognised as the oldest remaining Champagne in the world.
The tasters, which included Serena Sutcliffe, Head of the International Wine Department at Sotheby's, and Michel Bettane, France’s most celebrated wine critic, also sampled 20 other vintages from the Champagne house - though the 184-year-old vintage was undoubtedly the highlight.
As Hervé Deschamps , head of the Perrier-Jouët cellar, eased out the cork in Rheims, northern France, his blood pressure mounted. “It was very stressful,” he said. “I was worried that the cork would break because it had never been changed. And I was afraid the champagne would be undrinkable. But luckily, it was drinkable.”
Mr Cavil added: “Although there was only a hint of bubbles left it was perfectly fresh, the colour was fine and it resembled a very great chablis, with a note of white truffles and chocolate.”
The 1825 bottle was opened along with 19 other Perrier-Jouët vintages — four from the 19th century, fourteen from the 20th and one from the 21st — at a ceremony to which the champagne house had invited 12 experts to sample what it called “liquid history”.
Perrier-Jouët said that it had laid on la dégustation to announce its latest vintage, from 2002, with a demonstration that good champagne can be kept for decades in the right conditions.
“The bottles from the first half of the 19th century were more or less flat,” Mr Cavil said. “But the 1874 was still sparkling. The bubbles lasted for 45 seconds after it had been opened.”
Bubbles or no, the 1825 had the tasters in raptures. One of them, Serena Sutcliffe, head of wine at Sotheby’s, compared it to “mince pies cooking at Christmas time — it was very addictive and very special”.
Michel Bettane, France’s most celebrated wine critic, said the tasting this month was an experience he would not forget. “It’s the sort of thing which happens once in a lifetime,” he told The Times. “The 1825 was a very interesting wine. There were flavours of mushrooms, woods and a bit of honey.”
However, he preferred the 1911 and 1952, which were a “great lesson” for champagne producers.
The most expensive bottle of wine ever sold was a Chateau Lafite 1787 which was sold for £105,000 by Christie's, London, in December 1985.
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Sunday, March 29, 2009