Anyone up for 200-year cognac?

Cognacs bottled before the French Revolution and vintages tippled by the rich and famous -- Paris' famed 16th century eatery, the Tour d'Argent, puts 18,000 bottles of its best up for sale this month.

(AFP) -

Cognacs bottled before the French Revolution and vintages tippled by the rich and famous - Paris' famed 16th century eatery, the Tour d'Argent, puts 18,000 bottles of its best up for sale this month.

"I don't even know if I could afford some of the bottles," said 29-year-old Andre Terrail, part of the third generation of his family to run a restaurant variously known as the world's "oldest", "greatest" or "most famous".

On taking over after his father's death three years ago, the fresh-faced restaurateur launched a relatively cheap set menu at 160 euros (241 dollars), yet some vintage champagnes still go for well over 2,000 euros a bottle.

And the wine list itself is worth a visit.

Weighing eight kilos (17-and-a-half pounds), it lists 15,000 wines over 400 pages: The Tour d'Argent boasts one of the largest private cellars in the world, and certainly one of the great historical collections of wine.

"It is a heritage my father contributed to and which I must pass on," Terrail told AFP. "We must keep it alive and build on it."

Blessed with one of the city's best locations, by the Seine overlooking Notre Dame cathedral, the restaurant dates back to 1582.

Today, it is far from being at the cutting edge of fine cuisine, but remains a hot favourite with Paris-loving celebs such as Woody Allen, Paulo Coelho or Pedro Almodovar.

On the food front its foremost dish is pressed duck, made from birds which are strangled rather than beheaded to avoid blood loss and keep the flesh succulent.

Terrail says he decided to auction 18,000 bottles on December 7 and 8 in order to make space for new wines in his vast four-century-old cellars, crammed with 430,000 bottles of wines and spirits up to 200 years old.

"We need to enrich our collection with new wines from new parts of France," Terrail added.

Lording over the two-storey slice of wine history deep in the Paris underground is British-born chief sommelier David Ridgway, there since 1981.

In impeccable French, Ridgway admits it is difficult to part with cellar treasures, expected overall to fetch a million euros, with prices ranging from 10 euros a bottle to 5,000 euros, according to auctioneers Piasa.

Bought directly from vintners, none of the bottles has ever been on the market. Bordeaux wines include Chateau Latour (1975, 1982, 1990), Chateau Cheval Blanc (1928, 1949, 1966) and Chateau Margaux (1990).

Among Loire valley wines is a Vouvray Haut Lieu Huet (1919) while the Burgundy region includes a Puligny Montrachet (1992) and Vosne Romanee (1988).

Profits from the oldest bottle, a 1788 cognac, a Fine Champagne Clos du Griffier, will go to charity.

"We need the cash to buy new wines and age them for the future," Ridgway said.

"The fact is that there is a far greater diversity of wines across France today. If you look at the Loire valley, for instance, because of climate change there are wines there you wouldn't have found 15 to 20 years ago.

"And the young generation of vintners are talented, and have brought huge technical progress."

When he joined the Tour d'Argent almost three decades ago, the restaurant bought from 15 chateaux "but now there are 100," he said. Likewise there were only a couple of dozen top producers in Burgundy where now there are 150.

"And now tastes have changed. Wine is drunk younger by people brought up on sodas. We have to adapt and buy young vintages for the future."

Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor