Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Trollied Tuesday: 1788 and all that

Reason, if reason were needed to visit Paris.

In an auction that has wine-lovers around the world salivating, La Tour d’Argent will sell off part of its cellar under a plan to restore its declining reputation.

David Ridgway, the restaurant’s British head sommelier, will put up 18,000 bottles under the hammer in an attempt to create space for new wines and to raise at least €1 million (£900,000). It is the first time that the restaurant has sold its cellar since opening in 1582.

Among the items going on sale are a "1788 Clos du Griffier cognac, estimated to be worth €2,500, and an 1895 Corton, a red burgundy, estimated at €1,000". That almost sounds like a bargain. The idea of sipping a cognac that dates back to the era of the fall of the Bastille is - even before one considers such factors as taste - particularly appealing: a form of sensory time travel if you will. There are tasting notes, though, according to Ridgway: "The cognac's still very 'young' in the sense of being almost fiery – at least when I last tried one 15 years ago."

Sad as it is for the restaurant to be clearing its cellars in this way, though, there is another problem with all this. Its the suspicion I have that some of the rarest vintages will be bought as "investments" by someone who understands money but does not appreciate life. (It's similar to people who buy expensive artworks and then lock them in a bank vault. I don't really object to rich show-offs who buy the things to put them on display).

Admittedly, keeping a rare vintage locked away in the cellar will see it increase in value; but come on. These things are meant to be drunk. You might as well give the bottles away to some tramps rather than lock them away for ever.

I'll let David Ridgway have the last word here:

"Wines for me are meant to be drunk with people you love preferably. There are too many hoarders."


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Blogger Political Umpire said...

Delighted and intrigued though I am, a few questions arise -

(i) can a cork survive over a century ? I doubt it very much and I also doubt they would have recorked it, at least not for the first few decades. Therefore, the 1895 Burgundy I'd approach with great caution. Also it may well not have survived well, ageing reds are usually well overrated.

4:39 pm  
Blogger bill said...

Good points, sir. I can't imagine anyone even wanting to risk the disappointment of trying the Burgundy. It does reinforce the view that this stuff should be enjoyed when the chance arises.

Ars longa, vino brevis.

10:32 pm  
Blogger Political Umpire said...

I know that Chateau D'Yquem can survive that long, but doubtless that's the sugar content, and I think they do a re-corking service as well (though for how long they've done this I don't know).

3:16 pm  

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