From Discovery News:
Does the sea hold the secret to truly great wines? To find out a trio of French wine lovers -- a vineyard manager, a barrel maker and an oyster farmer -- teamed up to test the myth, above and below water.
"I had heard a bunch of stories about wines aging at sea," Bruno Lemoine, who runs the cellars of Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion in the southwest Bordeaux region, explained as he unveiled their findings this week in Paris.
One of the earliest known sea vintages dates from the 18th century, when the Bordeaux baron Louis-Gaspard d'Estournel sent a shipment of wine to India, whose unsold bottles returned to France mysteriously improved by the hull journey.
The most recent -- and extreme -- case dates from Friday, when 11 bottles of the world's oldest champagne, salvaged in 2010 from a Baltic Sea shipwreck, were auctioned off in Finland for 109,280 euros ($136,000).
The six bottles of Juglar, four of Veuve Clicquot and one of Heidsieck & Co, were preserved or even improved in the 200 years since the wreck, experts believe, thanks to the ideal conditions found on the chilled, dark bed of the Baltic.
"I found the whole idea amusing and intriguing," Lemoine said. "So when in 2009 we found ourselves with an exceptional vintage, full of rich tannins, I decided to put it to good use."
"It started out as a lark among friends. One of us came up with the idea and the others ran with it."
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