STRASBOURG, France — Tucked away in a vaulted cellar of eastern France for eight generations, they may be the oldest bottles of wine available for purchase: three bottles of Vin Jaune (yellow wine) dating from 1774 which will go under the hammer on Saturday.
The bigger-than-average 87-centiliter bottles were made by wine maker Anatoile Vercel using grapes harvested under the reign of Louis XVI.
They have been kept ever since by his descendants in Arbois, the capital of wine making in the rolling hills of the Jura region near Switzerland.
The three bottles were removed Tuesday ahead of Saturday’s sale in nearby Lons-le-Saunier.
“They are the oldest bottles of wines in the world on the market,” said Brigitte Fenaux of the Jura Encheres auction house, who will lead the sale.
It’s not the first time the 1774 Vercel wines have been offered: a bottle sold for €57,000 ($67,000 at current rates) in 2001, and another in 2012 for 46,000 Swiss francs ($46,000)
“Having three bottles from this particular year and of such quality is exceptional,” said Philippe Etievant of Jura Encheres.
A panel of two-dozen wine professionals had already gotten a taste of the bottles at a tasting in 1994, when they discerned notes of “walnuts, spices, curry, cinnamon, vanilla, and dried fruits,” rating it a 9.4 out of 10.
The bottles will cap the sale of 102 top wines from Jura on Saturday, when connoisseurs can also bid for a rare white wine from Arbois — a younger bottle, though, from 1811. — AFP