Buried Bubbly Could Be Buried Treasure

As far as buried treasure goes, Pol Roger Champagne from the 19th century is the stuff of wine lovers' dreams.

More than a century after a cave-in buried 125,000 cases of the Champagne house’s aging bubbly deep underground, the current owners have unearthed 19 bottles of the lost wines, and hope to uncover more.

The story began as a disaster. At 2 a.m. on Feb. 23, 1900, Pol Roger’s then-owner Maurice Roger was awoken in his Epernay home by a thunderous sound. More ominous noises followed. The company’s vast cellars as well as the adjoining buildings had partially collapsed. The rain-soaked earth had given way, the ground sinking 13 feet, taking a good portion of the building with it.

"It was the beginning of both the dreams and nightmares of generations of the family and chefs de cave," Laurent d’Harcourt, president of Pol Roger, told Wine Spectator. "In the past, digging the new cellar, maybe the chalk was too fragile and they didn’t realize it."

Thankfully, the catastrophe happened during the night when the cellars were empty and no one was injured, but the chalky earth had swallowed 500 casks and 1.5 million bottles of wine. It was a stunning loss.

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