A 1472 ALSACE wine was last night carefully transferred to a new barrel for only the third time in its history.
In April 2014, it was noticed that the barrel in which the white wine had been stored for three centuries was leaking slightly, so its contents were transferred to a tank while a new egg-shaped barrel was handmade by two of France’s most-resepected coopers Xavier Gouraud and Jean-Marie Blanchard.
The pair worked on the barrel for the special wine in their spare time, using traditional tools. It took them 200 hours to make.
The operation to restore the wine to the custom-made 450litre oak barrel took about 30 minutes.
The 543-year-old wine is believed to be the world’s oldest still kept in a barrel. It has been lovingly stored in the historic cellars of the Hospices de Strasbourg since its harvest.
It has only been tasted three times. The first occasion was in 1576 to celebrate the alliance between Strasbourg and Zürich; the second to mark the laying of the first stone for a public hospital in the city in 1718; and General Leclerc was the last to savour the wine’s flavour, when he celebrated the liberation of Strasbourg in 1944.
It has reportedly kept its flavour.
In 2011, historians were debating whether to open a 1,650-year-old bottle of wine, sealed with wax and containing a white liquid, which has been on display at the Pfalz Historical Museum in Germany for more than a century since it was discovered buried alongside a Roman noble.