Times must be really hard when the French presidential office starts selling some of its top domestic wines. A two-day auction should help refill state coffers, officials in Paris have said.
The French presidential office was hoping to find new owners for 1,200 bottles of fine domestic wine, Drouot Auction House announced on Thursday. It said the Elysee Palace in Paris was willing to part with bottles from its wine cellar ranging in value from from 15 euros ($19) to 2,500 euros for a Petrus 1990, a rare Bordeaux variety.
The auction house added the proceeds of the sale representing about one tenth of the cellar's collection would be put to good use.
In vino veritas
The Elysee wine cellar is a closely guarded national treasure protected by an armored door. It contains a collection of over 12,000 bottles overseen by a head sommelier and was started by Former French President Vincent Auriol in the 1950s.
Interest in the bottles up for sale was widely expected to be brisk, with buyers from Russia, the United States and Asia certain to join the two-day bidding ceremony.
Observers described the auction as being part of a more sober approach to state spending under President Francois Hollande amid the ongoing economic crisis. While the sale is only a dropin the bucket in terms of bringing France's deficit and national debt in line with EU targets, it at least has the potential to be a convincing symbolic gesture to those currently suffering from austerity measures.
hg/msh (Reuters, dpa)