200-year-old shipwreck bubbly sold for 'record' price

Auctioneers hold up a specially-made box for a bottle of Veuve Clicquot in Mariehamn A special box was made for the Veuve Clicquot bottle

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A bottle of nearly 200-year-old champagne has been sold for 30,000 euros ($43,900; £26,700) at an auction in Finland - in what is believed to be a new world record.

The Veuve Clicquot bubbly was bought by an anonymous bidder from Singapore, auctioneers in Mariehamn said.

The same buyer paid 24,000 euros for another bottle of champagne, which was made by the now defunct Juglar house.

They were found in a shipwreck at the bottom of the Baltic Sea last year.

In all, more than 140 bottles were discovered by divers, and the wine is said to be in "exquisite" condition.

'Value and prestige'
Christian Ekstrom, the diver who found the champagne, is pictured with one of the bottles. Photo: April 2011 The wine was perfectly preserved because of the conditions of dark and cold on the seabed

Friday's auction at Acker Merrall & Conditt took place in Mariehamn, the capital of the autonomous Aaland Islands between Finland and Sweden, near to the place where the bottles were found.

"This is an emotional bottle, because this is the wine of Madame Clicquot herself," Veuve Clicquot historian Fabienne Moreau told the AFP news agency, referring to Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin - the woman who ran the famous house in the 19th Century.

Experts believe that the booty from the shipwreck dates from about 1825-1830.

The auctioneers said the previous record was set in 2008, when a bottle of 1959 Dom Perignon Rose sold for 27,600 euros. This has not been independently confirmed.

However, Mr Moreau, who had sampled the champagne, said the price "proves the value of the wine and the prestige of the house".

Tourism boost

According to records, Clicquot champagne was first produced in 1772 but was laid down for 10 years.

Production was disrupted after the French Revolution in 1789.

The wine found in the Baltic Sea was perfectly preserved because of the conditions of dark and cold on the seabed.

The Aaland authorities now want to turn the champagne auction into an annual event to boost tourism.

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