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Pre-Revolutionary Cognac under the hammer in second Tour d’Argent auction

A collection of ancient Cognacs, including a 1788 Clos de Griffier, goes under the hammer at Christie’s next month.

Vieux Cognac Grande Fine Champagne ‘Clos de Griffier’ 1788 [Christie’s Image Ltd 2012]

One hundred and eighty lots of ancient Armagnacs, rum, calvados, Port and marc as well as some historic Cognacs, all from the cellars of the Parisian restaurant La Tour d’Argent, form part of Christie’s Finest and Rarest two day auction in December.

The oldest bottle of all is the prized, pre-Revolutionary, Vieux Cognac Grande Champagne Fine ‘Clos de Griffier’ Café Anglais 1788, with an estimate of £3,000-£4,000.

Other venerable lots include two jeroboams (2.5L) Grande Fine Champagne Cognac ‘La Tour d’Argent’ 1805. This extremely rare format was bottled on site more than 200 years ago. Both items will be sold in their original hand-blown glass bottles with estimates of between £10,000 and £15,000.

More affordable spirits include a Bas Armagnac La Tour d’Argent 1875 at £600-£800 and a single lot of six bottles of Calvados Camut 1929 estimated at £1,200-£1,500.

This is not the first time La Tour d’Argent’s owner André Terrail has gone to auction with the contents of his restaurant’s extraordinary cellar.

In 2009, he sold 18,000 bottles for more than €1.5m in order to finance the purchase of newer vintages.

That sale included another bottle of the 1788 Clos du Griffier, which was bought as a charity lot by the Playboy Club in London for €31,000 and suffered an ignominious fate in July this year, being accidentally smashed by a businessman who had ordered it as an ingredient in a £5000 cocktail.

Even so, La Tour d’Argent’s cellar still numbers more than 400,000 bottles, enabling diners to choose from more than 14,000 different wines and spirits.

Commenting on his reasons for auctioning off this latest collection, Terrail said, ‘it is unusual for our diners to request some of our rarest and oldest spirits. And without wishing for such premium spirits to be left forgotten, we requested Christie’s help in ensuring these excellent bottles are enjoyed by those who will truly appreciate them.’

The auction of the La Tour d’Argent lots is expected to net in excess of £160,000.

Written by John Stimpfig

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