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Visiting France

237-year-old Jura wine sold for 57,000 euros

media A clavelin of vin jaune gites.jura.arbois website

A bottle of wine made in 1774 was sold for 57,000 euros in the eastern French region of the Jura on Sunday. The lucky bidders could drink their purchase if they dare - a group of experts declared another bottle from the same batch "excellent" when they tasted it in 1994.

The price was a record for the relatively obscure wines of the Jura, prompting auction organiser Bernard Badoz to declare that they are now up there with the big boys, like Bordeaux and Burgundy.

The bottle contained vin jaune (yellow wine), which is made exclusively from the savagnin grape - a cépage hardly found outside the Jura.

The wine is aged for six years in huge oak casks, where it grows a sherry-like flor that accounts for its potential to last centuries in a drinkable state.

A third of the wine evaporates - it is known as la part des anges (the angels's share) - and nowadays what is left is put in bottles of 67 centilitres, known as clavelins, rather than the usual 75-centilitre size. 

The wine sold Sunday was in an 87-centilitre bottle.

It was made by Anatoile Vercel (1725-1786) from grapes grown on wines during the reign of King Louis XV (1715-1774).

A group of wine professionals tasted another of Vercel's 1774 vintage in 1994 and declared that it gave "excellent results", noting its amber-gold colour and its notes of walnut, curry, cinnamon, vanilla and dried fruit.

They gave it 9.4 points out of 10.

The auction took place at the region's annual wine festival - the percée du vin jaune - which Badoz started 15 years ago.

The lucky bidder was Swiss national Pierre Chevrier, acting for a group of French, Swiss and Belgian winelovers.

He outbid retired Paris businessman François Audouze, who, despite swearing ahead of the sale that he would not go over 25,000 euros, went up to 56,000 before dropping out.

"I really wanted to taste it," he told a local paper. "The oldest bottle I've ever drunk was 90 years younger."

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