1919 champagne - Printable Version

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- 49joy - 12-30-1999 12:07 AM

I have inherited a bottle of 1919 Dry Monopole champagne, from Heidsieck & Co. in Reims, France. The label indicates that the "maison fondee en 1785". The bottle and label are in great shape. Any ideas about what this is worth? How would I go about selling it??? Thanks for any help I can get!

- JWE - 12-30-1999 08:53 AM

Even the very best Champagne does not keep for more than 20 years. You will find that this 1919 Heidsieck will be flat and undrinkable. I don't think it has any resale value. Sorry.

- tomstevenson - 12-30-1999 10:17 AM

Not true, I've tasted 1892 Pol Roger with bubbles and fruit, and could still be appreciated for what it is - Champagne - rather than something flat, dark coloured and smelling like sherry. Having said that, all the best preserved Champagnes have remained in the cellars where they were produced until the time of opening. Buying old Champagne on the open market is very risky (hence they do not fetch very high prices), but I can probably give you some encouraging news about your particular bottle because a few years ago I purchased nine bottles of 1923 Heidsieck & Co at auction. The price was so ridiculous (less than £10 a bottle) that it did not really matter if most were going to be duds. Well, I've still got three bottles left and apart from two with leaky corks, they've all been the same. Although they have not turned out to be the greatest preserved Champagnes of their age that I have experienced, they do have some fizz. There is a sherrylike aroma, but it is not as dominant as I've found in some Champagnes half their age, and it is merely part of a more complex boquet, minling with aromas of coconut, vanilla and macaroons. There is still some fruit. From what you say about the condition of your 1919, it could be at least as good as my 1923s because they all have a noticeable ullge. Because of the foil, you will have to turn your bottle upside down to see how much ullage there is. If it's less than the depth of the punt, the odds are in your favour. By the way, the punt should be much deeper than the punt in a modern Champagne bottle - if it's not, you've got a fake! Theoretically 1919 is as good a vintage as 1923, both being excellent years. Pol Roger 1919 is one of my favourite old Champagnes (both my parents were born that year).

I suggest that it will not be worth the effort trying to sell this bottle, and that you should open it on a special occasion. I recommend chilling it at the last moment, and not as chilled as you would normally serve Champagne. Try to serve a couple of old Champagnes prior to the 1923 (if it's a special occasion, you should be able to afford something from the 1970s and, if possible, somewhat earlier), as this will ease you and your guests into the feel of mature Champagne, and it might very well impress you just how well preserved your 1923 is in comparison to the younger "old" Champagnes. There is nothing worse than going straight from a crisp, young Champagne to something of this venerable age. Enjoy!