La Tour D'Argent takes its wine seriously. The wine list weighs eight kilos, and their cellar contains 450,000 bottles. Or at least it did, before it sold off the trifling matter of 18,000 bottles.
As we noted back in October, the lots included wines from as long ago as 1875, and three bottles of Clos du Griffier Cognac made in 1788. There were also a number of recognised 20th century classic vintages: Chateau Lafite Rothschild (1970, 1982, 1997) and Cheval Blanc (1928, 1966).
Little wine was actually on show at the Salons Hoche sales room, where Piasa auctioneers presented lot after lot to a lively bidding audience. There may have been a reason for this, as we noted some of the bottles do not look particularly attractive with black mould on the outside of a few.
The exact sales figures have not yet been released, but most wines sold within or above their estimates, so it is clear that La Tour D'Argent made their hoped for €1m from the sale, which they began partly to thin out duplicates in their vast cellars and make room for an even greater variety of fine wines.
Bidders had various factors influencing them: the wines themselves, the mystique of the 427-year-old restaurant and the story of particular wines - 20,000 of which were specially bricked up to keep them away from the Nazis during World War 2.
Sometimes bidding was surprising, with six bottles of 1998 Chateau Haut-Brion white Bordeaux selling at three times the €480 estimate at €1,400, whilst three bottles of 1971 Chateau Rieussec, expected to sell for around €100 sold for €680.
None of the bottles has ever been on the market before, having been bought directly from vintners.
British chief sommelier, David Ridgway, commented "I hope that people will buy just to enjoy the wine, to drink it".
Of course, wine collectors who would like to see the bottles at future auctions will be hoping they do nothing of the sort.
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