PARIS (AP) -- In headier times, some of these wines were served at dinner for French presidents and their guests -- kings, queens, other heads of state. In today's times of austerity, the Elysee Palace is selling these vintage bottles.
French President Francois Hollande's palace has decided to dive into its wine cellar and sell some of its treasures, to raise money and replenish its collection with more modest vintages.
About 1,200 bottles -- a tenth of the Elysee's wine collection -- are to be sold at Drouot auction house in Paris on Thursday and Friday. Organizers say that prices may reach up to 2,200-2,500 euros ($2,845-$3,235) for a 1990 Petrus, down to 15 euros ($20) for a more modest wine.
"This is exceptional because this is the first time that the Elysee put its bottles on sale," Ghislaine Kapandji, the auctioneer, told The Associated Press.
A small label mentioning the Elysee Palace and the date of the auction has been affixed on each bottle. "I think that's a bonus for buyers, because that's a way for them to be sure that these bottles have always been stocked in the cellar of the Elysee," which means "good preservation conditions," she said. "For many people, that is also the purchase of a souvenir, of a symbol."
Wine lovers from Europe, the United States, Russia or China have contacted the Drouot auction house ahead of the sale. "Lots of sommeliers of Parisian gourmet restaurants contacted us to get information about the bottles. We've also been in touch with wine brokers working for international buyers," said Ambroise de Montigny, the wine expert for the auction.
Many of the bottles are ready to be drunk immediately. They've been chosen by Virginie Routis, head sommelier at the Elysee, mainly because they were available in too small quantities to be served in the big dinners organized at the Elysee.
The bottles come from vineyards from everywhere in France, mostly from Burgundy and Bordeaux. A few bottles of champagne from Salon are estimated at about 350 euros ($455). The oldest bottle on sale, a Ch
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