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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 July, 2004, 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK
Shipwrecked champagne uncorked
Diver with champagne
The divers were secretive about where exactly the champagne lies
Bottles of bubbly buried in a shipwreck for 50 years have been cracked open by divers who discovered them.

About 20,000 half bottles of champagne were found in a sunken French cargo ship, but just a handful have been brought to the surface for tasting.

Divers, including some from Folkestone Diving Club, say the stash is somewhere in the English Channel, and are secretive about when they found it.

The ship was heading for England when it sank in a storm on July 16, 1955.

The divers have already uncorked some bottles to share with friends, and gathered in a London hotel on Saturday for an official tasting.

They were granted permission to lift some of the bottles for tasting from the Receiver of Wreck, who oversees information on wrecks.

It certainly did not taste bad or spoiled, although there was just a hint of a fishy aroma and taste, but nothing major and it did not taste salty
Champagne expert Susie Barrie

The group of 10 to 15 divers said the wreck, The Seine, was in the middle of a shipping channel.

The Seine sank after allegedly hitting a Russian freighter in stormy seas.

It is believed the champagne it was carrying was bottled about five years earlier to commemorate the end of the golden guinea coin - which experts could see faintly stamped on foil on some of the corks.

Champagne expert Susie Barrie described the drink as "pongy".

"Aged champagne is an acquired taste and often loses its fizz and this had lost most of its fizz. You either love it or hate it," she said.

"It certainly did not taste bad or spoiled, although there was just a hint of a fishy aroma and taste, but nothing major and it did not taste salty.

"You would not be able to tell it was from a shipwreck," she added.




SEE ALSO:
'Unique' naval treasure found
10 Jan 03  |  Scotland
Devon treasure goes on display
08 Jan 03  |  England
Divers find shipwreck treasure
21 Aug 02  |  Wales


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