8 Dec 2009

Vintage wine on auction at prestigious restaurant

1:11 pm on 8 December 2009

One of the most famous restaurants in France is auctioning 18,000 bottles of vintage wine worth about 1 million euros.

The Tour d'Argent - or the Silver Tower - has been a Paris institution for more than four centuries and its wine list runs to 400 pages.

The cellar includes wine from Cognac, Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux.

The BBC reports the sale is intended to renew the cellar's contents and ensure the restaurant keeps its multiple Michelin stars. The cellar has 450,000 bottles in total.

Profits from the sale of one of the dustiest bottles - a 1788 cognac expected to fetch 2500 euros - will be given to charity.

Chief sommelier David Ridgway said he had bought most of the wines being auctioned during his 30 years at the restaurant.

"Each bottle is a bit like one of my children: you see them go and you're always sad but at the same time they're going to make space for more, so it's a sad occasion but a happy one at the same time."

He added that the sale was going "remarkably well" despite the recession, with some bottles fetching 30% above the original estimate.