“A taste of history in a bottle” – that is how one bidder described some of the fine wines being auctioned off by one of France’s most prestigious restaurants.La Tour d’Argent is considered a temple of Parisian dining and the moment the news broke that it was to sell up to 18,000 bottles from its vast cellars, wine experts and enthusiasts smacked their lips in anticipation. Jean-Frangois Cavagni was very happy after he paid 700 euros for 12 bottles of Vieux Sauternes and Pavillon Blanc. “It is nice, prestigious and I think the price of the wine is more than fair. We are approaching the end of year festivities so that is an opportunity to taste it with the family. Some of the bottles I will keep for a while longer.” This two day auction is the first time in the restaurant’s 427-year history that it has parted with any of its wines, champagnes and spirits all carefully selected by generations of sommeliers. Olivier Poels, Editor of Vins de France, said: “The first bottles went for a price that was practically crazy so we can’t consider what is being paid today in this sale as being representative of market prices.” The aim is to raise one million euros for renovation projects and, with one bottle of cognac dating from 1788 going for around 25,000 euros, that target looks like being easily reached.