bottle of Vieux Cognac sold Monday for $37,000 at an auction
Francois Mori / AP
PARIS - A bottle of Vieux Cognac dating back to 1788 —
the year before the French Revolution — sold at a Paris
auction of wine and spirits for $37,000.
landmark Tour d'Argent restaurant has cleaned out its cellar,
considered one of the best and biggest in the world, putting
18,000 bottles up for auction. The two-day sale, which ended
Tuesday, brought in more than $2.2 million, the Piasa auction
from China to Russia to the United States bid for a chance at
rare treasures. To put things in perspective, the pricey Vieux
Cognac Le Clos Griffier dates back to 1788, when Louis XVI and Marie
Antoinette were still living at the royal palace at Versailles
and would not be guillotined for another five years.
Wines can't withstand the passing years as well as spirits like
cognac, and the reds and whites on sale were younger and netted
more modest prices. Twelve half-bottles of 1989 Chateau Haut-Brion
went for a total of $8,900. A lot of six bottles of Vosne-Romanee
from 1988 netted nearly $9,300.
427-year-old restaurant donated proceeds from the $37,000 bottle
of 1788 cognac to the Association Petits Princes, a French charity
that grants the wishes of ailing children. The Tour d'Argent,
which means "Tower of Silver," is keeping the rest
of the money from the sale, which may be used later for renovations.
Two additional bottles of the historic 1788 cognac sold for
$31,000 and $27,300.
'through the roof'
Helena Puolakka and her husband Tuukka, who had visited from
London for the day in the hope of picking up a bottle or two,
it was a great disappointment.
have been going to the Tour d'Argent to eat for many years and
we know they have wines there that you cannot find anywhere
else in the world," Helena, a chef from Finland, told the
U.K.'s Guardian newspaper. "But, at these prices, it's
cheaper to buy the wine in the restaurant."
husband said: "To be honest, the prices have gone through
the roof. They are ridiculous."
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the sale of thousands of bottles, there are still about 432,000
bottles stacked floor to ceiling under the restaurant in a succession
of caverns. The auction's goal was to cut down on wines the
restaurant has in multiple so it can vary and modernize its
Left Bank restaurant, known for pressed duck and views of Notre
Dame, dates back to 1582. It was once the summit of French gastronomy,
attracting royalty, politicians and film stars.
recent years have brought tougher times. Longtime owner Claude
Terrail died in 2006, and his 29-year-old son Andre now runs
it. The restaurant, where a prix fixe lunch menu costs more
than $95 and a tasting menu at dinner goes for $235, long held
three Michelin stars but is now down to one.