On February 23, 1900, extreme winter weather caused Pol Roger’s Épernay cellar to collapse, burying 1.5 million bottles of bubbles. The damage was so extensive that salvation attempts were deemed futile.
Now, more than a century later, the Champagne house plans to use cutting-edge technology to rescue the bottles.
When Pol Roger began building work on the same plot last year, a drilling session exposed an underground chamber with 26 bottles of in-tact Champagne. The bottles were believed to be from the 1898 vintage.
Speaking to the Drinks Business, Pol Roger’s president Laurent d’Harcourt said it was highly likely there are more bottles buried at the plot. But before the Champagne house can investigate further, it must secure the walls and ceiling of the cellar, which was sealed shut after the collapse.
“One year ago, we found 26 bottles, but then we stopped everything because it was becoming dangerous,” d’Harcourt said. “But we know that 1 to 1.5 million bottles disappeared, so we want to find the right way to find more.”
To avoid human risk, Pol Roger is working with specialists to devise a very futuristic solution to its 19th-century problem.
“We will be making a tunnel, with protection, and then sending in a robot,” d’Harcourt said.