When the Beaufort-Spontin family left the Czech Republic for Austria at the end of WWII after being labelled Nazi sympathisers, they hid a certain treasure in their castle in Bečov.
After years of negotiating with communist authorities, who tried, in vain, to locate what the family was desperate to retrieve, their descendants finally managed to return in 1985.
Underneath the floorboards in Bečov, among other valuables, were 133 bottles of vintage wine dating back to 1892.
The total value of the wines was estimated at 20 million crowns, though without being able to sample the bottles, the true worth of their contents was a mystery. Even decades-old bottles are at risk of spoiling.
In 2013, however, Greg Lambrecht invented the Coravin device: an ultra-thin needle that can pass through the cork of a wine bottle without risk of oxidation, and extract a small amount of wine for tasting.
Lambrecht was on hand in Bečov recently when the 100+ year-old bottles were sampled by local sommeliers Jakub Přibyl and Andreas Wickhoff using the Coravin device to better appraise their values, reports iDnes.cz.
In the judgement of the master sommeliers, the vintage wines are still in excellent condition.
“The red wine is in great condition, made from dried grapes most likely originating from southwestern Spain,” Přibyl said of the first bottle.
“The aroma is full of caramel, raisins and nuts. Its lively color resembles amber with green reflections. The taste is characterized by the above mentioned caramel or rum pralines. It is a wine with a sweet expression and higher alcohol levels, likely to be Pedro Ximénés,”
The original 20 million crown estimate, it turns out, was conservative. The most expensive bottles from the Bečov collection could fetch up to 750,000 apiece, according to Přibyl.