RARE BOTTLE OF CHATEAU LAFITE-ROTHSCHILD FROM THE TIME OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
An incrediby rare bottle of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild (Pauillac), 1st Grand Cru Classe, vintage 1791 with the Domaines Barons de Rothschild label on the back (in French): 'Recorking done by the Master of Chai du Chateau in 1982' The 29 cm. tall bottle is clearly of ancient glass, hand-blown and striated as was glass of the era. This fine Pauillac was produced the year of King Louis XVI's flight to Varennes (June, 1791), in which Louis, Queen Marie Antoinette, and their immediate family unsuccessfully attempted to escape from Paris in order to initiate a counter-revolution using royalist officers concentrated at Montmedy. They escaped only as far as the small town of Varennes-en-Argonne, where they were arrested after having been recognized at their previous stop in Sainte-Menehould. This incident was a turning point after which popular hostility towards the French monarchy as an institution, as well as towards the king and queen as individuals, became much more pronounced. The king's attempted flight provoked charges of treason that ultimately led to his execution in 1793. Only a minuscule number of 18th century bottles of this very great wine have come down to us. To our knowledge, this is one of the only known bottles dating from the French Revolution, along with one from 1789 offered by the French government to the American government for the bicentenary of the French Revolution and two others sold in the 2000s (see below). The origin of Chateau Lafite dates back to the acquisition of the property by the La Fite family, per the king's orders in the 16th century. The property then passed into the hands of the Segur family in the 16th century, and it was only around 1680 that the vineyard achieved greatness, the vines planted by Jacques Segur. The chateau's wines were first introduced to the court of Versailles by the duc de Richelieu. Changing hands several times during the 19th century, the property was finally acquired at auction by the Rothschilds in 1868, when the vineyard definitively took the name of 'Lafite Rothschild'. When in 1755, Armand de Vignerot du Plessis, duc de Richelieu was appointed Governor of Guyenne, he consulted a doctor in Bordeaux who prescribed him the wine of Chateau Lafite as the best and most pleasant of tonics. He declared it 'the famous Fountain of Youth...the nectar of the gods of Olympus' to Louis XV and offered his king several bottles. Soon after, all that was talked about at Versailles was the wine of Chateau Lafite, honored with the high approval of the King. Madame de Pompadour had it served at her private suppers and Madame du Barry made it her duty to drink only 'the King's wine', as it was then called. Later, on the eve of the French Revolution in 1787, Thomas Jefferson visiting in Bordeaux acquired several barrels and thus began a new history for 'Le Premier des Premiers'. This bottle comes from the cellar of Restaurant Le Coq Hardi in Bougival, represented by its director at the time, Mr. Jean Van Egroo (1922-2010), by whom it was acquired before the Second World War. It was then sold to Mr. Richard Pattecher (1951-2022). The bottle was re-corked at Chateau Lafite Rothschild in 1953 and then again in 1982, through Mr. Yves Le Canu (1925-1994), Director General of Domaines Rothschild from 1977 to 1989. The label was redone around 1983. Prior sales of similar vintage bottles include: Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Vintage 1789, Christie's Paris sale, June 18, 2003, Lot 1. From the same source. Euros 21,850. Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Vintage 1789, Christie's NY sale, November 3, 2007, Lot 1. From the same source. $24,000. The bottle is essentially full, well to the top of the shoulders. Its cellaring history is unknown, sold as a historic relic of great import. From the vast collection of Mr. Bruno Ledoux, the world's foremost collector of Napoleonic and French Revolution documents and relics of the highest quality.