A chance to buy Chirac's leftovers

The Antique Wine Company is now inviting bids for a collection of 362 of the best of the 5,000 bottles from the Paris mayoral cellar so controversially auctioned off in October 2006 by Chirac’s socialist successor Bernard Delanoe in his quest for a less elitist use of city funds. The bottles were chosen for civic hospitality (not for Jacques Chirac himself, who is a beer drinker) by the Hôtel de Ville’s secretary general Bernard Bled, who was a more laudable Frenchman, ie a wine lover.

The British company’s founder Stephen Williams assures potential buyers that “each bottle bears an identifying neck label, assuring the buyer of its authenticity”. The 362-bottle collection can be viewed online here or as a list below and includes some 1986 Romanée-Conti and La Tâche, various sought-after recent vintages of the first growths and Pétrus (back to 1982 in the case of Haut-Brion), and Krug 1976.

Stephen Williams’ hopeful comment is: “Coinciding with the departure of M Chirac from his office as President, this is sure to attract massive interest across the wine world. At this time of dramatic political change in France, this collection of iconic wine symbolises the power and prestige that attached to Chirac over his many decades in office. It will be a valuable and historic asset for the purchaser.” Hmm.

“The importance of the collection will be further enhanced,” claims the company, “with the creation of a unique and beautiful architectural case created by Linley, the bespoke British furniture company established by Viscount Linley. This lovely piece is an elegant model of the Paris City Hall itself, executed in a variety of unusual woods such as grey sycamore, and with secret compartments concealing the most valuable bottles.” Mon Dieu! Imagine riffling around in a replica of the mayoral cleaning cupboard for a bottle of Mouton ‘86…

The Antique Wine Company is hoping to attract offers in excess of £200,000 for this curious relic and say that “the sale of the collection will be undertaken in a negotiation process only open to registered and verified bidders”.

(362 bottles)

Bordeaux, Pauillac
36 1996 Lafite Rothschild
12 1986 Mouton Rothschild
6 1989 Mouton Rothschild

Bordeaux, Margaux
27 1990 Margaux
36 1995 Margaux
18 1996 Margaux

Bordeaux, Pessac-Leognan
12 1982 Haut-Brion
18 1985 Haut-Brion
6 1986 Haut-Brion
12 1988 Haut-Brion
42 1989 Haut-Brion
6 1990 Haut-Brion
24 1994 Haut-Brion
24 1995 Haut-Brion

White Bordeaux, Pessac-Leognan
6 1990 Haut-Brion Blanc

Bordeaux, Pomerol
18 1987 Pétrus
8 1988 Pétrus
1 1989 Pétrus
5 1990 Pétrus
6 1992 Pétrus
4 1993 Pétrus
8 1994 Pétrus
6 1995 Pétrus
2 1996 Pétrus
2 1997 Pétrus
5 1998 Pétrus

Burgundy, Côte de Nuits
4 1986 DRC, La Tâche
2 1986 DRC, Romanée-Conti

6 1976 Krug

The Antique Wine Company specialises in these carefully presented ‘collections’, having sold something billed as “the world’s largest collection of Ch d’Yquem” to the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat for £775,000 ($1.5 million) in December 2006. The announcement of the sale of the Paris City Hall Cellar Collection follows that of the announcement of the sale of a Ch Lafite-Rothschild Collection.

As someone who likes to open rather than look at bottles of wine, the charm of these preserved-in-aspic, swaddled-in-Linley sets of toy soldiers has always eluded me, but perhaps they are useful for grand hotels and restaurants. Surely Mr Williams should be targeting Las Vegas? Or perhaps the name Chirac is not the most resonant in the Nevada desert.

June 7: Stephen Williams reports that he has managed to sell this little lot to a South American buyer for £300,000 ($600,000).