Bottles of 19th century Champagne dug up in the Marne

The old bottles have arguably been unwittingly been kept in “perfect Champagne conditions”

Bottles of Champagne from the 19th century have been uncovered in the historic cellars of the Maison Pol Roger house, in Épernay (Marne), after over 100 years underground.

The bottles were thought to have been first covered up during a serious landslide one night in the winter of 1900, and have stayed buried more than 25 metres under the rubble and dirt ever since.

“At around 6h30, when [the Maison founder] woke up, he saw that the floor of the cellar had fallen in, and had shifted. Thankfully, no-one was hurt...except for the bottles,” said Christian du Billy, the grandson of the Maison’s founder, explaining the story to news source France Info.

Preserved at a constant temperature and away from bright light, the old bottles have arguably been unwittingly been kept in “perfect Champagne conditions”, although the vintages are reportedly yet to be tasted, and will be stored for a further few months before any are opened.

Around a million bottles were thought to have been covered in the original incident, with a significant proportion discovered unharmed in the excavation.

Maison Pol Roger has a long history (Plindberg / Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

When beginning their current expansion and renovation plans, the descendants and current operators of the Maison were not hopeful that they would discover any of the bottles - but a further exploration was started when one bottle fell from the ground, completely intact.

“We decided to make the hole bigger [at that point],” explains Damien Cambres, head of the cellars next to the Maison Pol Roger. “From a 50cm hole, we created a whole tunnel, 2 metres wide. And then we found the famous cellars, and many bottles that were not broken.”

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