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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Divers Find 200-Year-Old Champagne in Baltic Wreck

Now that's some vintage bubbly.

Divers have discovered what is thought to be the world's oldest drinkable champagne in a shipwreck in the Baltic Sea, one of the finders said. They tasted the one bottle they've brought up so far before they even got back to shore.

Diving instructor Christian Ekstrom said the bottles are believed to be from the 1780s and likely were part of a cargo destined for St. Petersburg, the imperial capital of Russia. The nationality of the sunken ship has not yet been determined.

"We brought up the bottle to be able to establish how old the wreck was," he said Saturday. "We didn't know it would be champagne. We thought it was wine or something."

Ekstrom said the divers were overjoyed when they popped the cork on their boat after hauling the bubbly from a depth of 60 meters.

"It was fantastic. … It had a very sweet taste, you could taste oak, and it had a very strong tobacco smell. And there were very small bubbles," Ekstrom said.

The divers discovered the shipwreck Tuesday near the Aland Islands, between Sweden and Finland. About 30 bottles are believed to be aboard the sunken vessel.

Experts said the shape of the bottle showed that it was from the late 18th century, and the bottle and its contents have been sent to champagne specialists in France to be analyzed.

"We are 98 percent sure that it is Veuve Clicquot champagne and that it was probably [made] between 1772 and 1785," Ekstrom said. Veuve Clicquot was established in 1772.

The current title of the world's oldest champagne is held by Perrier-Jouet, which has two bottles from 1825.

Swedish wine expert Carl-Jan Granqvist said each bottle could fetch 50,000 euros ($68,000) if the corks are intact and the sparkling drink is genuine and drinkable.

"If this is true, it is totally unique," said Granqvist, one of the experts contacted by Ekstrom and his team. "I don't know of any other [drinkable] bottle this old. I've never even heard of it."

Granqvist said he had seen pictures of the bottle, and it had aged in near-perfect storage conditions — in the dark at a constant cold temperature.

"If it's the right atmosphere outside, and inside the bottle the cork is kept dry in the middle, it keeps itself," he said.

Because the wreck lies off Aland, an autonomous part of Finland, local authorities will decide what will be done with the wreck — and the champagne.

(AP, Reuters)