Here’s drinking to you kid …

Sommelier David Ridgway That was Casablanca … the lithping Humphrey Bogart said it to Ingrid Bergman. But this is Paris. And here on December 4,5 and 6 (Friday-Sunday) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. the legendary restaurant, La Tour d’Argentt, is auctioning 18,000 bottles of wine from its cave of 450,000 bottles. You would not […]


Sommelier David Ridgway

That was Casablanca … the lithping Humphrey Bogart said it to Ingrid Bergman.

But this is Paris. And here on December 4,5 and 6 (Friday-Sunday) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. the legendary restaurant, La Tour d’Argentt, is auctioning 18,000 bottles of wine from its cave of 450,000 bottles.

You would not just be able to walk in for a look around though. You would have to have an invitation which is obtainable on the auctioneers’ web site. The auctioneers are the Salons Hoche at No. 9 Avenue Hoche in Paris’s chic 8th arrondissement. There is a questionnaire to fill in and you will be asked your bank details.

La Tour d’Argent is any gourmet and gourmand’s dream. But as is the custom in Paris’s top restaurants, the menu comes without pricing the dishes. It is believed that for a guest to know the price of a dish will be embarrassing to the host or hostess.

The restaurant dates from 1582 when it was the dining room of an inn at the gates of Paris. There was a law that no one could enter Paris after night had fallen, so travelers pulled up alongside the inn, had a meal and spent the night there.

France’s monarchs used to stop there for something to eat too. Today, monarchs still stop there to enjoy its dishes, especially its duck; each duck is numbered and the number is entered in a register – President Kennedy’s duck bore the number 245,000 and Mick Jagger’s was 531,147. During the Revolution the mob pillaged the cellar but during World War Two when France was occupied by Germany, the restaurant remained open (the official explanation is that the Wehrmacht had forced the owner – Claude Terrail – to keep the restaurant open …) but Monsieur Terrail had bricked up the door to the cellar. The Germans had the habit of clearing out a wine cellar – drink what they could and sent the rest back home to Germany – when they came across one.

Why would the restaurant now be auctioning 18,000 bottles from its cave?

Chief Sommelier David Ridgeway (a Brit!) who has been caring for the cellar for 28 years says that the restaurant should not lose its vitality, selling 18,000 bottles will make place for new wines. Who will dispute his reason? Not me for sure.

The 18,000 bottles will be divided into 1815 lots. The cheapest … no must not say ‘cheapest’ … the least expensive bottle is expected to go for €10 ($15 ; £9) and the most expensive for €3,000 ($4,500 ; £2,700). That will be a 1788 Cognac because not only wine will be auctioned but also some very very old spirits.

In the other lots there will be Château Margaux, Cheval Blanc, Château Lafitte Rothchild and Château D’Yquem, to name but a few.

The auction is expected to fetch one million Euros.

Will I be there? I will let you work that one out for yourself. But where is that bottle of plonk I bought yesterday … and where’s the corkscrew …?

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

6 Responses to “Here’s drinking to you kid …”

  1. 6
    Online Poker Says:

    I always inspired by you, your thoughts and way of thinking, again, appreciate for this nice post.

    – Joe

  2. 5
    Jo Says:

    I bet you've got some good wines under your stairs. We can buy good wines here for about $10 Cdn. but we consider $20 Cdn. to be a special wine for us. We are NOT into anything much pricier malheureusement.

  3. 4
    Marilyn Z. Tomlins Says:

    You bet, Jo, I won't be there. By the way 10 euro for a bottle of wine here is not cheap. One can get an excellent bottle for 5 or 6 euro.

    The auction is front-page news here and even BBCWorld and SkyNews reported it yesterday. I'm sure that they will get more than a million euros.

    Meanwhile, my 'cellar' (well of my staircase) is full now as I've been shopping for when my 6 guests will be here.

  4. 3
    Jo Says:

    Yeah, you're probably right Satima, I wasn't thinking auctioned but sold and of course at an auction the prices could go sky high. Ah well, I won't be there anyway and I am sure Marilyn won't either.

  5. 2
    Satima Flavell Says:

    I wouldn't mind betting that even the cheap wines will fetch a good price, just because they come from where they come from!

  6. 1
    Jo Says:

    Matt has wanted to go to that restaurant for as long as I've known him and I guess way before. Some of those wines are not too expensive, €10 is not unduly pricey for a good wine. – wish I could be there.

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