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Historical Wine Is Auctioned Off After 250 Years at the Bottom of the Sea

Press release   •   Mar 08, 2018 07:30 UTC

Wine specialist Henrik Christensen with the rare shipwreck wine

A rare, old vintage wine from the beginning of the 18th century, which was salvaged from a shipwreck off the Dutch coast, can now be yours. It is also the oldest wine Bruun Rasmussen has ever had up for auction.

Right now, you can bid on a very special and very old bottle of wine, which adds quite a lot of depth to the concept of “vintage wine”. The wine dates back to the early 18th century and is the oldest Bruun Rasmussen has ever had up for auction. It is very rare that wines of this age are available for private purchase, and today only a handful of this type of wine is known to be in private ownership. The wine also comes with a backstory a little beyond the usual.

Only a Few Unbroken Bottles After the Shipwreck

In 1735, the wine was on board the Dutch merchant ship the "Vliegend Hert" (The Flying Hart) heading towards Jakarta in Indonesia. But four hours after the departure from the Netherlands, the ship struck ground and sank. All 256 crew members went down with the ship and its valuable cargo. The ship was first salvaged in 1981. Here a few hundred bottles were pulled from the bottom of the sea together with a treasure consisting of several thousand gold and silver coins. However, most of the bottles were broken or had perished in other ways. Only a few of the bottles were intact and with their original content, such as the bottle that is now up for auction.

"Onion-bottle" With Its Original Content

The wine bottle is difficult to place in terms of vintage since bottles in the 1700s were not fitted with vintage labels. And even if they were, the label on this bottle would have been dissolved a long time ago after the approx. 250 years spent in a shipwreck at the bottom of the sea. Wine expert Henrik Christensen explains that for this reason it is difficult to say anything specific about the contents of the bottle: "The bottle is of the “onion” type, which was typical for the period from the late 1600s to the middle of 1700s, and it was used for all sorts of wine. So, the bottle type does not tell us much about anything except the age," says Henrik and continues:" But what we can say for certain is that the Netherlands had some trade with wine from the German part of the Rhine. The Netherlands also had trade routes that ran across the Pyrenees down to Portugal and Spain, so the likelihood that it may be a port or Madeira is present."

Henrik Christensen also says that the wine is as authentic as a wine of this age can be – with its original content and cork intact. "To top it all off, the bottle is wrapped in a beautiful layer of mother of pearl after the 250 years at the bottom of the sea." Most of the bottles from the "Vliegend Hert" are currently owned by museums and can, for instance, be viewed at the maritime museum in Vlissingen in the Netherlands.


Preview and Auction

You can see the historic bottle of wine at Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers, Baltikavej 10 in Copenhagen's Nordhavn. The online auction ends on Sunday 18 March at 8 pm.

1 bt. Shipwreck Wine B/C (us) from Vliegend Hert. Onion bottle contains original wine from before 1735. Estimate: DKK 40,000-50,000 (€ 5,400-6,800)

View the rare shipwreck wine here

View the entire shipwreck wine auction

Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers is one of Scandinavia’s leading international auction houses, and one of Denmark’s oldest. It all started on 6 October 1948, when Arne Bruun Rasmussen conducted the first traditional auction in the saleroom at Bredgade 33 in Copenhagen. Today, Jesper Bruun Rasmussen stands at the helm of the family-run business together with the third generation of the family, his son Frederik and daughter Alexa, and the company’s CEO Jakob Dupont.

In 2004, the first online auction was launched, and today the auction house has expanded to include departments in Copenhagen and Aarhus and representations in Sweden, Germany, England, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Spain, Italy, Thailand and the US. About 100,000 lots are put up for auction each year at the traditional auctions and daily online auctions. Here you can bid on everything from art, antiques, modern design and jewellery to books, coins, stamps, wine and weaponry.