'World's oldest champagne' to be sold at June auction

Two bottles of 200-year old champagne recently salvaged from a Baltic Sea shipwreck will be auctioned off in June, the local government that owns the bubbly said Wednesday.

Finland's autonomous province of Aaland "has decided that two bottles will be sold at an exclusive champagne auction held in (the capital) Mariehamn on June 3, 2011," it said a statement.

One of the auctioned bottles will be from the house of Veuve-Clicquot and the other from the now extinct house of Juglar.

They are part of a batch of around 150 champagne bottles divers stumbled upon last July in a two-masted schooner which had run aground sometime between 1825 and 1830.

Salvaging of bottles - preserved in ideal conditions at the bottom of the Baltic Sea - began in August and authorities identified the bottles as the world's oldest Juglar and Veuve Clicquot brands.

In January, they announced Heidsieck champagne bottles were also in the lot.

"These bottles are unparalleled in the market. You can only speculate on what the end price will be, but it will probably be at record levels," champagne expert Richard Juhlin said in the statement.

In November, when the champagne was uncorked for the world's media and wine experts to taste, Juhlin told AFP that either bottle could fetch 100,000 euros ($144,925).

"Ah!" he had let out in appreciation when tasting the two-century-old bubly, describing the Juglar as "more intense and powerful, mushroomy," and the Veuve-Clicquot as more like Chardonnay, with notes of "linden blossoms and lime peels".

Aaland officials announced at the tasting event the province would auction off one bottle of each make, but no date had been made public until now.

The designated auction house is Acker Merall and Condit.

The Aaland archipelago at the mouth of the Gulf of Bothnia belongs to Finland, though it enjoys autonomy from Helsinki and locals speak Swedish.

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