The intern made the discovery.
This story originally appeared on Foodandwine.com.
Six years ago at the Bollinger estate, something unusual happened. An intern at the 188-year-old Champagne house, tasked with cleaning an old cellar, began to clear away a wall of empty, dusty bottles and made an amazing discovery: a hidden room filled with more than 600 bottles of vintage cuvée. It was a private stash, built by multiple generations of the Bollinger family and, somehow, forgotten. Among the hidden treasures was one bottling from 1914.
With the help of Cellar Master Gilles Descôtes, Bollinger launched a full restoration of the bottles. “We embarked on a two-year project to carefully examine, taste and authenticate each one, as well as restore damaged bottles and corks. We had to consult our archives to be able to identify each vintage and village of origin as the old coding system is no longer used,” said Cyril Delarue, a 6th generation Bollinger family member and the company's U.S. Commercial Director. “We were delighted to find many of the Champagnes stood the test of time and aged beautifully.”
This past weekend at Sotheby’s in New York, the 1914 bottle sold for $10,000 at the the Champagne house’s first-ever auction. It was part of a package called the Bollinger 1914 Taste Experience, which also included a trip for four to the Bollinger estate in France, with luxury accommodations and dinner at the five-star Le Château - Les Crayères hotel in Reims.
In additional to the $10k sale, a magnum of Bollinger R.D 1988 Cuvée sold for $3,800, two jeroboams of R.D. 1979 sold for $5,500 each and lots of the R.D. Annee Rare 1973 sold for $4,200 each. Sales from the auction totaled $125,300.