the world's oldest wine in a barrel is said to still have a fine aroma.
(left - A bottle containing the oldest wine in the world, a white wine from Alsace, in Strasbourg eastern France(AFP/File/Olivier Morin) ) .With its bright shades of golden-amber and its aromas of vanilla, hazelnut or camphor, the 1472 vintage of white Alsace wine has been ageing for over 500 years now in the cellars of the Strasbourg Hospice in eastern France.After so many centuries in a barrel "it is simply extraordinary that it is still wine," said Philippe Junger, who is in charge of the historic cellars to be opened to the public this weekend for the yearly Heritage Days.
In France, a country proud of its past, 11.5 million people turned out last year for the two-day event when thousands of historic sites and buildings are thrown open for a once-a-year peak to the public. Some 14,000 sites will be involved this year for the 20th edition.
In 1994, tests conducted on the old wine by the office in charge of policing products and preventing fraud, the DGCCRF, concluded that "the old thing has maintained an astonishing sprightliness" and "a powerful, very fine aroma."
The white wine, tinted with the amber shades oak, has an alcohol content of 9.4 percent and has a particularly high percentage of dry matter (the solids in a wine), which, according to Junger, is a guarantee of the persistence of the original wine.
"About one percent of the volume evaporates each year, it's the angels' share, so we add a bottle of dry white wine every three months. But in this barrel there is dry matter from at least 300 litres of 1472 wine, so it remains a 1472 vintage."
Junger, a former chef, said the vintage had survived notably because of its acidity.
"It is a wine with a lit of aroma, very acidic on the palate. It is extraordinary but should be drunk sparingly," said Junger, one of the happy few to have tasted a wine said to be the oldest in the world "until someone proves the contrary."
Celebrated as early on as in the 17th century, the wine is the topmost "treasure" of the cellars of the Hospice, which each year make a profit of tens of thousands of euros (dollars).
In centuries past the hospital would exchange vines against medical help and make its own wine in the old cellars built in 1395. But around a decade ago, the hospice signed an agreement with some 40 top Alsace wine-makers to hand over their best vintages for ageing in the cellar's gigantic old barrels.
The result are 150,000 bottles each year of titillating "Hospices de Strasbourg".