The 1907 Heidsieck & Co Monopole Gout Americain is too syrupy to be considered as Champagne in the 21st century, but the Champagne house has created a reinterpretation of it, and is selling it exclusively at Atlas bar in Singapore
When a Swedish ‘treasure hunter’ contacted Nathalie Vranken, owner of Vranken-Pommery group, she listened to his tale in disbelief. He had bottles of the 1907 Heidsieck & Co Monopole Gout Americain that his team salvaged from the wreckage of the Jonkoping boat that sank in 1916 — and wanted to present them to Vranken.
Vranken shares, “These treasure hunters go on expeditions to look for shipwrecks in the international waters. If you find anything, it belongs to you. The Swedish guy found these Champagne bottles in the sea, and wanted to find out if we were interested to buy them. I asked them how they knew the bottles were mine. They had opened one already and the cork had the words ‘Heidsieck & Co Reims and Gout Americain 1907’ on it.”
If the 1907 Gout Americain (French for American Taste) rings a bell, that’s probably because you remember it as the same vintage that passengers on board the Titanic were drinking before the tragic event in 1912.
Four years after the sinking of the Titanic, a Swedish ketch, Jonkoping — transporting 3,000 bottles of Gout Americain, along with 10,000 gallons of Cognac and 17 barrels of Burgundy wines — was destined to the Russian Imperial Court. A WWI German submarine sunk Jonkoping and it plunged deep into the Baltic Sea. In 1998, the aforementioned Swedish search party managed to recover the wreck with its Champagne cargo in pristine condition. The Cognac and Burgundy didn’t fare as well.
The North Sea’s constant temperature at four degrees Celsius, the total darkness, and the water pressure at a depth of 64 meters was the ideal environment for keeping Champagne bottles in excellent condition for 82 years. “Due to the cold temperature, there was no plankton and parasites in the sea — so the bottles were as well preserved as those in the cellar,” says Vranken. The water pressure also worked perfectly to help the cork stay in place and prevented the bubbles from escaping. Once retrieved, the bottles were immediately sealed to avoid oxidation.
Vranken, together with her winemaker had a taste of the original 1907 Champagne that was saved from the sea. “The colour was a deep golden yellow. When I first tasted it, I was very surprised. There are still some bubbles left, and the Champagne tasted like cake, brioche, butter, and currants,” she shares. She also describes it to be very sweet, like a dessert wine, which is what the wealthy enjoyed having in those days.
Despite having a taste of the original Champagne, and having an incredible story behind it, the team at Heidsieck & Co Monopole decided that it couldn’t be sold for mass consumption as today’s public doesn’t enjoy a Champagne that’s sugary sweet.
Instead, the house produced new bottles of Champagne with the original label based on the documentation of the labels in its archives. “We knew that this particular boat sank in the Baltic Sea. We did some research and found the number of the bottles that were on board the Jonkoping heading to Russia,” says Matthieu Chapoutier, Vranken-Pommery’s Asia Pacific export manager. Vranken confirmed that the archives also included information about the shipment, the order of the imperial court and the invoice.
The flavour of this recreated Champagne is rich and flavourful, with notes of black fruits. The Heidsieck & Co Monopole style is usually about black grapes – mostly Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and a touch of Chardonnay.
Have a Sip
Heidsieck & Co Monopole Gout Americain is retailed exclusively at Atlas bar for $170. The bubbly will be available exclusively at Atlas for two years, which started from October. Additionally, the plan of recreating the last menu of the Titanic is underway to elevate the drinking experience.
Meanwhile, four of the salvaged bottles of the 100-year-old Gout Americain are now safely stored in Atlas’ rose gold Champagne room and available for viewing upon request. The cost of one is a whopping $190,700.