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Pre-French Revolution Cognac auctioned by La Tour d’Argent

One of the most famous restaurants in Paris, La Tour d'Argent, is set to auction some of the rarest wine and spirits lying in its 50,000-bottle cellar, including a pre-French Revolution Cognac.

The La Tour d’Argent auction is scheduled for today (9 May) and includes a pre-French Revolution Grande Fine Clos du Griffier Cognac from 1788, as well as thousands of bespoke Riedel and Baccarat glasses and other objects. The Cognac alone was expected to fetch up to €20,000 (£15,850).

The Michelin one-star restaurant traces its origins to 1582. It was once owned by Napoleon’s personal chef and was parodied affectionately in Disney film Ratatouille.

The sale is one of several in recent years and helps make way for the restaurant’s refreshed branding and décor.

‘The bottles up for auction are as much a part of history as they are wines and spirits,’ said head sommelier David Ridgway, who has worked at La Tour d’Argent since 1981.

‘At a certain point, the price we have to charge for these in the restaurant is a bit obscene, and we pride ourselves on pricing our list very keenly,’ he told Decanter.com.

The sale features several lots of private-label Armagnac from 1875; Domaine de Semainville A. Camut Calvados du Pays d’Auge 1929; and Blandy Voal Madeira 1850, bottled in 1887.

Also of note among non-wine items: a Christofle silver duck presse, estimated to fetch €4,000 and used to make the restaurant’s signature canard au sang – a piece of culinary theatre served only in a handful of restaurants, including Otto’s in London.

Ridgway, who is working with newly hired chef Philippe Labbé to modernise the wine pairings for an updated menu, said of the older bottles up for auction, ‘The styles are different from what 21st century diners might be accustomed to.

‘The Cognacs and Armagnacs are purer, perhaps less rounded than what is being produced today.’

The total sale, organised by auctioneer Artcurial, is expected to achieve up to €500,000.

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