You Can Bid on Marie Antoinette-Era Cognac in Paris
La Tour d’Argent, a famed Parisian restaurant, is selling off a silver duck press and 228-year-old bottles of Grande Fine Clos du Griffier Cognac.
Photo courtesy of Artcurial.
Finding the right mix of everyday drinkers and special occasion bottles for your home bar can be a fun challenge. Sure, you want some bottom shelf garbage for casual, after-work relaxing, but what's your special occasion blowout bottle? If you're super-loaded—rich, not drunk—and you've ever thought, Fuck it, I want some Cognac that predates the French Revolution, you're in luck, because La Tour d'Argent is about to auction off some Marie Antoinette-era booze along with a silver-plated Cristofle duck press and loads of other rarities.
Bloomberg reports that La Tour d'Argent, a famed Parisian restaurant with an impeccable view of Île de la Cité and Notre Dame that claims to have been a favorite of the Sun King Louis XIV and Lauren Bacall alike, is going to auction off some rarities to help finance and make way for renovations. Up for sale is rare old liquor; furniture; art; table, silver and glassware; and more. Tour d'Argent translates to Silver Tower or Tower of Money, depending on how you choose to think about it, which is exactly what you'll need if you even want to think about going after a 228-year-old Cognac.
The 1788 Grande Fine Clos du Griffier Cognac was bottled five years before Marie Antoinette lost her head, and the bottles are in "impeccable condition," according to an expert at Artcurial, the auction house managing the auction. La Tour d'Argent has auctioned off pieces of its massive 27-room, 350,000-bottle cellar in the past, and a 1788 Clos du Griffier went for 25,000 euros in 2009, while six bottles went for $26,000 each in 2012.
Of course La Tour d'Argent isn't letting all of the Clos du Griffier go—they're holding on to 15 bottles, but thought it would be prudent to auction some, given the hot vintage spirit market and the fact that, once opened, the bottle is only good for about six months. By the glass, the price is "a little ridiculous," according to sommelier David Ridgway.
"It's very much a paler Cognac than one would imagine," Ridgway told Bloomberg, who said opening a Clos du Griffier up "is a way of turning back the clock."
Also up for auction is one of La Tour d'Argent's famed duck presses, this one plated with silver and designed by Cristofle, which are used to make the restaurant's signature duck with sauce made from its blood. La Tour d'Argent claims they have been counting how many ducks they've served since they allegedly opened in 1582, and when you order the duck you are presented with a little card with your duck's number. They are now well over one million—for reference, number 328 went to Edward VII in 1890, before he became the King of England, and 112,151 went to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1929. Pretty crazy—just a little bit crazier than the 400-page leather-bound tome that houses Tour d'Argent's insane wine list and looks more like a Bible than a booze catalogue.
La Tour d'Argent is one of France's oldest restaurants, and has been mentioned in Ernest Hemingway's Moveable Feast, Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time, and was even the inspiration for the restaurant in Ratatouille. But in the last 20 years, it's lost a little bit of shine as it declined from a three-Michelin-star rating to a one. The restaurant is hoping the 300,000 to 450,000 euros it raises from the auction can help pay for a rebuff that will put a little pep in the restaurant's step.
If you're thinking about picking anything up from the auction, you can do so online, by phone or in person on May 9. Bonne chance to all the bidders.