x
  • Country ranking ?

    681
  • Producer ranking ?

    1
  • Decanting time

    15min
  • When to drink

    As soon as possible
  • Food Pairing

    enjoy without food

ANOTHER DISCOVERY IN A BALTIC SHIPWRECK

In July 2010, bottles over 200 years old were discovered in a shipwreck in the Baltic Sea. Between 1825 and 1830, a cargo galley sank with more than 150 bottles of champagne from different brands, including Heidsieck & CO Monopole, on board. In November 2010, the oenologists who examined the cargo revealed that some of the first bottles they found had the oldest known vintages of the following champagne brands: Veuve Clicquot, Heidsieck & CO Monopole and Juglar. 

Mr. Juhlin, a Champagne expert, helped the authorities in Aaland inventory the bottles found at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. A total of 4 bottles were identified as being from Heidsieck & Co Monopole. He stated that the Heidsieck champagne had been kept under good conditions. "The Heidsieck Monopole contains around 75% pinot noir (…) It has floral and lightly toasted notes," he added. 

He said that he could not assess the value of the bottles found. Upon tasting these crus, Mr. Juhlin estimated that each of the bottles could be worth as much as €100,000.

 

Most Expensive Champagne in the World

Shipwrecked 1907 Heidsieck   $275,000

These hundred year old bottles of Champagne from the Heidsieck vineyard in Champagne took over eighty years to reach their destination. Shipped to the Russian Imperial family in 1916, a shipwreck off the coast of Finland caused this champagne to be lost at sea until divers discovered over 2000 bottles in 1997. Now they’re finally being sold at $275,000 to wealthy guests at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow, at least. Of course, the wine’s extraordinary tale and incredible age are what makes it the world’s most expensive champagne.

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The Story

In early 1900, Heidsieck & Co Monopole was the market leader in Europe. The rulers of Germany and Austria-Hungary, such as Tsar Nikolai II, were its faithful customers. Champagne was already known worldwide when in 1911, the King of England granted the Heidsieck & Co Monopole champagne house the prestigious royal warrant, in which the house then became “Purveyors of Champagne by appointment to his Majesty”. In Russia, for its part, where Heidsieck’s champagne was very well known and famous, Tsar Nikolai II’s personal orders even before Jonköping’s fateful journey exceeded a modest 400,000 bottles.

 

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Vintage 1907

From the bottom of the ocean to a world record
On the morning of 3 November 1916, the German submarine U-22 stopped a small Swedish schooner, Jönköping, off the Finnish coast. In the cargo hold of this unlucky ship were 3,000 bottles of champagne, 10,000 gallons of cognac, and 17 barrels of Burgundy wine that had been ordered by the court of Tsar Nikolai II. The commander of the U-22 decided to sink the schooner but save the lives of its crew. The ship sank into the depths of the Sea of Bothnia in less than an hour.
On the morning of 22 October 1998, in an auction hall in London, the tap of a gavel ended a long-running tender competition – a world record had been born. More was paid for a champagne bottle that had lain in the cargo hold of Jönköping for 82 years than for any other champagne bottle before that.

Jönköping was built at the Sjötorp shipyard in 1896. It was 20.5 metres long and 6.67 metres wide, and was equipped with an 18 horsepower oil engine. The ship was loaded in Gävle on 26 October 1916, and was ready to make its way to Rauma, Finland, for the tenth time that year.
After a few hours of travel, however, poor weather interrupted the journey, and Jönköping had to anchor down and stay put for a few days. The unsuccessful attempt of the ship to return to Gävle on time created a rumour that a German submarine had sunk it – a rumour that ironically later proved to be prophetic. By 2 November, the weather improved noticeably, and the captain along with his crew decided to continue the journey toward Rauma.
At the same time, a German submarine U-22 was positioned 12 nautical miles southwest from Rauma. Even though the commander of the submarine, Bruno Hoppe, had along with his crew already the previous day sunk two Swedish ships, it did not fully satisfy the captain. The sun had not quite risen yet, but the lookout could see and hear for 8 miles despite the slight morning fog. At 5:00 am, he suddenly heard a weak sound. It was the sound of a motor. The commander was called to the lookout spot, and he immediately decided that they should look into the matter. The U-22 left its position and guided towards the sound that was coming from the west.



The night was tranquil and calm on the Jönköping. The ship had made its way across the North Sea without any troubles. Because of the dusk and fog, however, the Finnish coast could not yet be seen. Therefore, the schooner cruised calmly in front of Rauma, waiting for dawn. Suddenly, a small island was detected from the ship, and fearing that the coast was already too close, they turned Jönköping toward the open sea. Soon they noticed, however, that the island was not an island but rather a German submarine, which quickly overtook them!
Commander Carl Scherb ordered the captain of the schooner, E.B. Eriksson, to turn off the ship’s engine and go up to the submarine to show the ship’s papers and explain its cargo. Scherb soon realised that the cargo contained contraband, and he announced to Eriksson that the ship was to be sunk. Eriksson did whatever he could to save his ship. He suggested that they throw the entire cargo into the sea and even offered to transport it to the nearest German harbour. Scherb had, however, already made his decision and stuck to it; this was Jönköping’s tenth journey that year with contraband, and Scherb’s message was – there is a limit to everything, Jönköping’s time had come.
Two crewmembers of the U-22 rowed to the schooner carrying explosives. After setting the explosives, the men in a hurry took as many bottles of champagne as they could from the ship and then left it. Except for these few bottles, the whole cargo load sank deep into the bottom of the sea along with the ship.



The search for Jönköping commenced at the end of May 1997, in which a Swedish search party found the wreck at a depth of 64 metres. Only in July, when the diver returned from the wreck with a bottle of Heidsieck Monopole Goût Americain from 1907 in hand, was it confirmed that it really was Jonköping. (The same product and vintage had also been stored on the Titanic when it sunk in 1912.)
The first bottle that the diver brought up, however, did not have a label or anything that would have immediately told what champagne the bottle in question held. The leader of the search party, Peter Lindberg, had the honour of opening the first bottle. This is how he reflected upon it:
– I stood at the bow of my ship with my whole crew around me holding plastic cups, waiting for me to open the bottle. I held the cork tightly and tried to pull it up, but suddenly it was really tightly stuck. I had to use force to get it to move, and finally the cork got loose from the bottle accompanied by a little ‘plop’ sound. I was surprised that my heavy-handed handling had not broken the cork. I carefully smelled the cork. My first reaction was that it did not smell very good. There was, however, writing on it: Heidsieck & Co. Reims at the bottom and Goût Américain 1907 on the side. I handed the cork forward and placed the bottle underneath my nose and smelled. Already it smelled much better than the cork, and I knew immediately that the bottle did not contain water but instead champagne. The others around me also smelled the cork, and their reactions were somewhat similar to mine. Therefore, when I placed the bottle on my lips and tasted the first gulp, I thought I sensed crazy things. The taste was very strong, sweet, and fruity. The drink was actually very good! The others were observing me very closely to see my reaction. I took the bottle from my lips, and a smile lit up my face. As a result of this, many plastic cups were immediately held out in front of me. Because I had survived the first sip, my crew wanted to enthusiastically also get to taste this brilliant champagne.

By Nuikki


 

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Average Bottle Price

2016 2015 2014 2012 2011 2010 2005 2000
2 970€ +11.9% 2 655€ +32.2% 2 009€ -37.4% 3 211€ -25.1% 4 288€ +18.0% 3 633€ -5.5% 3 845€ +164.3% 1 455€

This data comes from the FINE Auction Index, a composite of average prices for wines sold at commercial auctions in 20 countries. The average prices from each year have been collected since 1990. This chart plots the index value of the average price of the wines.

Latest Pro-tasting notes

36 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Deep, Gold and Clear

ending

Long, Lingering and Round

flavors

Honey, Nutty, Toasty, Apricot, Violet and Dried-fruit

nose

Open, Generous, Complex and Fresh

recommend

Yes

taste

Low in Acidity, Low alcohol content, Medium tannin, Balanced, Well-Integrated, Well-structured, Mature, Medium-bodied, Harmonious, Refined, Fruity, Medium-Sweet and Silky tannins

Verdict

Well made and Exotic

Written Notes

In the early hours of November 3rd 1916, off the coast of Finland, the Jönköping, a small Swedish wooden schooner, was stopped by the German submarine U-22. She was carrying 3,000 bottles of champagne, 10,000 gallons of cognac and 17 barrels of burgundy wine, as well as steel products in her hold. Because of the steel products, the commander of the U-22 decided to sink her instantly, but saved the lives of the crew. The vessel went down in less than an hour, remaining untouched at the bottom of the Baltic Sea for more than 80 years. In early 1997 a wreck was found by a Swedish search team at a depth of 64 meters. The water temperature in the Baltic Sea, hovering around four degrees Celsius, the total darkness and the water pressure at 64 meters had combined to preserve these bottles in immaculate condition for 82 years. An astonishing, very old looking bottle. Excellent level; decanted only five minutes before tasting. Pale and light, almost youthful colour. Still has some sparkle left. Sweet, fruity, and fresh nose dominated by honey and exotic fruit and raisins. Sweet and one of the richest champagnes we ever tasted. It has an amazingly good balance and structure. Not too sweet, even though the Heidsieck Goût American style had a relatively high dosage. Surprisingly long and pleasing wine, which moved smoothly and easily down our throats, leaving a most memorable and historic aftertaste.
  • 97p
Heidsieck Gout Americain 1907: Amazing champagne which has everything a great wine should have. My mother was born in the town of Jönköping, which was also the name of the shipwreck carrying this bottle. A strangely moving experience. 98 pts.
  • 98p
A: light, almost youthful N: sweet, exotic fruit P: one of the richest champagnes we have tasted, and has amazingly good balance and structure E: not very sweet, even though the Heidsieck Gout Americain style had a relatively high sugar dosage In a nutshell: excellent level; decanted five minutes before tasting. A high dosage wine. No malolactic fermentation. Final verdict: leaving a most memorable and historic aftertaste
  • 97p

Information

Origin

Épernay, Champagne

Grapes

100% Chardonnay

Age of vines

45

Vintage Quality

Excellent

Value For Money

Good

When bottled

1910

Release state price

1€

Investment potential

Good

Fake factory

Serious

Glass Time

15-30min

Drinking Temperature

8

Inside Information

The North Sea’s temperature, hovering around four degrees, the total darkness of the sea bottom and the water pressure at 64 metres had preserved the bottles in impeccable condition for 82 years. When Jönköping sank, its cargo hold contained some 50 wooden boxes of champagne, 60 bottles in each. Of these, some 2,500 bottles were lifted after seven successful rescue trips, in which I have had the pleasure to taste three of them.

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Highlights

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users. or to see wine moments from your world.

97p
 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  Goût Américain 1907  ( Heidsieck & Co Monopole )

"In the early hours of November 3rd 1916, off the coast of Finland, the Jönköping, a small Swedish wooden schooner, was stopped by the German submarine U-22. She was carrying 3,000 bottles of champagne, 10,000 gallons of cognac and 17 barrels of burgundy wine, as well as steel products in her hold. Because of the steel products, the commander of the U-22 decided to sink her instantly, but saved the lives of the crew. The vessel went down in less than an hour, remaining untouched at the bottom of the Baltic Sea for more than 80 years.
In early 1997 a wreck was found by a Swedish search team at a depth of 64 meters. The water temperature in the Baltic Sea, hovering around four degrees Celsius, the total darkness and the water pressure at 64 meters had combined to preserve these bottles in immaculate condition for 82 years.
An astonishing, very old looking bottle. Excellent level; decanted only five minutes before tasting. Pale and light, almost youthful colour. Still has some sparkle left. Sweet, fruity, and fresh nose dominated by honey and exotic fruit and raisins. Sweet and one of the richest champagnes we ever tasted. It has an amazingly good balance and structure. Not too sweet, even though the Heidsieck Goût American style had a relatively high dosage. Surprisingly long and pleasing wine, which moved smoothly and easily down our throats, leaving a most memorable and historic aftertaste.
"

1y 7m ago

99p
 Sam Melan, Wine Collector (Finland)  tasted  Goût Américain 1907  ( Heidsieck & Co Monopole )

"Fabulous! Best champagne so far."

1y 9m ago

98p
 Jan-Erik Paulson, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  Goût Américain 1907  ( Heidsieck & Co Monopole )

"Heidsieck Gout Americain 1907: Amazing champagne which has everything a great wine should have. My mother was born in the town of Jönköping, which was also the name of the shipwreck carrying this bottle. A strangely moving experience. 98 pts."

2y 5m ago

95p
 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  Goût Américain 1907  ( Heidsieck & Co Monopole )

"!952 Cheval is still suberb wine. It must be the best price-quality ratio Cheval Blanc that can be found. The vintage was very good overall in Bordeaux, but especially on the Right Bank. A warm spring and hot summer from June until the end of August ensured good vegetative growth to the vines. Only the cold September ruined the dreams of outstanding quality. This wine has been always delicious when tasted. The deep, clear brick-red colour already indicates the richness of the wine. The powerful yet elegant nose reveals ripe dark fruits: mainly blackcurrants, with dark chocolate, coffee and spices. Almost full-bodied taste, it is very opulent and fleshy with a velvety texture. The tannins are gentle but firm and the finish is very balanced. The wine is drinking perfectly now but has the qualities to keep for another decade. But why wait, since it definitely will not improve any further."

4y 8m ago

97p
 Juha Lihtonen, Sommelier (Finland)  tasted  Goût Américain 1907  ( Heidsieck & Co Monopole )

"A: light, almost youthful

N: sweet, exotic fruit

P: one of the richest champagnes we have tasted, and has amazingly good balance and structure

E: not very sweet, even though the Heidsieck Gout Americain style had a relatively high sugar dosage

In a nutshell: excellent level; decanted five minutes before tasting. A high dosage wine. No malolactic fermentation.

Final verdict: leaving a most memorable and historic aftertaste"

4y 9m ago

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