French auction sees third-price Petrus sold

Wine-buyers the world over will be green with envy at the news of a small northern French auction-house selling top vintage wines at slashed prices.

The five Bordeaux first growths

Described by some as “the sale of the century”, it took place in the northern French port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, where local newspaper La Voix Du Nord described bidders as “salivating” as the lots were presented.

Names like Château d’Yquem, Petrus and Château Mouton Rothschild were the kind of quality clarets on offer, along with vintage Burgundies like 1963 Richebourg.

It is thought that some of the lots were bottles seized in bank foreclosures or presented by local wine lovers also took the opportunity convert their collections to quick cash.

It was a bidder described only as “the man in a white polo shirt” who stole the show at the sale, as he secured the biggest bargain of the day paying just over €800 (just £635) plus a 14% commission for not one but two bottles of 1973 Petrus.

Boulogne-Sur-Mer in northern France

Boulogne-sur-Mer in northern France

With an average price of around £950 per bottle, or £1900 for a pair, it means that the “man in the white polo” managed to save himself nearly £1500, paying little over a third of normal prices.

One gentleman, named only as Sebastian is quoted outlining his humble intentions for his knock-down vintages: “I like cooking and then I buy wine at auction, it is the opportunity to get great wines at a third of the commercial price. I open them with my friends,” he said, as he completed the purchase of several lots of Saint-Julien.

While they are likely to have been vetted for counterfeits, it is equally unlikely that the bottles were checked as thoroughly as wines offered by major auction houses.

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