Where do the auction wines come from?

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By Sayuri Aoyama 

One of the frequently asked questions about old fine wine which is sourced at French wine auctions is “Where do these wines come from?”

The answer is simple – everywhere, from private individuals, restaurants, investment companies, and/or merchants. As a country of wine, France has developed a large and matured secondary wine market over the centuries. In France, more than100 wine auctions take place every year.

The French system of  selling art and antiques (including old fine wine) at auction is entirely different than the British (and the rest of the world) model and is filled with traditions and regulations dating back to the 16th century. In order to become an auctioneer, or ‘commissaire priseur’ in France, you must earn advanced degrees in both law and art history, and then continue with two years of apprenticeship. The short video attached below is of a Commissaire Priseur in her 3rd year, who brought old bottles of d’Yum 1929 for De Clouet’s examination prior to her auction.

Auction firms in France are also legally bound to compensate any losses relating to wine counterfeit. For this reason, they hire an independent wine expert to examine each bottle prior to its auction and the expert decides the initial bidding price based upon the condition and quality of each wine. Among other experts, Aymeric de Clouet is the sole judicial expert appointed by the Paris Court of Appeal since 2011. He oversees more than 30 wine auctions per year. De Clouet has recently been Knighted in the order of Agricultural Merit by the Ministry of Agriculture.