The Crédit Municipal de Paris – the city of Paris's treasury – is hosting its second annual wine auction, on 16 November, at its offices in the Marais.
Following the successful sale in October 2006 of the Paris Town Hall wine cellar (dubbed ‘Chirac’s cellar’), in conjunction with French auction house SVV Giafferi, the ministry of finance was inspired to start hosting its own annual wine auctions.
Next week’s sale features 400 lots of fine wine and spirits. Highlights include single bottles of Salon le Mesnil (from 1959 to 1964, and estimated at €2,000-3,500); Domaine de la Romanee Conti Romanee Conti (from the 1970s, 80s and 90s and ranging from €1,500-2,800); and Gaja’s 1997 Sori San Lorenzo and Costa Russi.
Operating on the same principle as a pawn shop, the Crédit Municipal lends money and accepts wine and other valuables as collateral. When the borrowers’ contracts come due, they must repay the loan or sell the object left as a deposit.
Anyone can bid, and buyers pay a 14% premium, which auction director Rene Saragosti says is ‘the lowest in France’.
Proceeds go toward repayment of the loan plus interest, with any remaining funds going to the borrower.
Saragosti says the treasury only accepts marketable wine and spirits in sellable condition.
‘We decided that since we already auction all manner of objects – jewellery, paintings and even vintage clothing – wine would be very popular,’ Saragosti told decanter.com’
‘The wine comes from all sorts of borrowers – doctors, teachers, blue-collar workers.’
Wine is stored in the treasury’s own 18th century Mont-de-Piété wine cellars, which can hold more than 90,000 bottles in optimum conditions.
Municipal de Paris accepte en gage les grands vins, les champagnes et les alcools anciens. Dans sa cave à vin du XVIIIe siècle, l’Établissement peut conserver dans des conditions optimales plus de 90 000 bouteilles.
While this sale is unlikely to bring in anywhere near the €970,000 (£650,000) earned from the town hall sale, Saragosti is confident it will cover its costs and then some.
‘We will sell every single bottle,’ he said.
Written by Maggie Rosen