Part of the lure of drinking older vintages is the idea of quaffing history, imagining what was happening when the bottle was first sealed. The 427-year-old La Tour d'Argent restaurant in Paris recently auctioned off some of its drinkable history in an auction that brought in 1.54 million euros in two days. A bottle of 1788 Clos du Griffier cognac was one of the first of around 18,000 bottles auctioned off. French entrepreneur Raphael Zier paid 25,000 euros for it but is quoted by Bloomberg as saying that he paid 10 times the asking price because he was eager to contribute to the charity for children, Association Petits Princes, which would get the proceeds. Ivan Imenitov, a Russian businessman picked up another bottle of the 1788 Clos du Griffier for 15,000 euros. It was priced lower because mold had obscured the label. Imenitvov said he was just happy to get the aged cognac, label or not. Collectors from around the world picked up bottles of aged Bordeaux and Burgundy. The bottles, which were bought directly from vinters and sent straight to the seller, had an impeccable provenance, a concern in these days of wine fraud.
The auction also brought attention back to the historic restaurant which is currently trying to earn back a second Michelin star (at one point it had three but is now down to one). Most of the auction proceeds, except for the charity sale of the cognac bottle, will go toward fleshing out the wine cellar with newer vintages and sprucing up the kitchen.