Mitterrand's wine cellar up for sale

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THE wine cellar of the former French president, Francois Mitterrand, which contains an 1865 cognac and a range of commemorative bottles offered by foreign dignitaries, is to be sold at auction by his widow, Danielle Mitterrand, in June.

The auctioneer, Thierry de Maigret, said the bottles left by the late president, a renowned bon viveur, were likely to raise several thousand pounds when they are sold at Paris’ Drouot auction house on 14 June.

But he said it was difficult to deduct information about Mr Mitterrand’s taste in wines from those he had left undrunk.

"It’s hard to draw conclusions, and as a man he was rather secretive," Mr de Maigret said.

Mr Mitterrand died in 1996 from a cancer he had kept hidden from the public.

The oldest bottle in the cellar is an 1865 Delamain cognac still in its travelling case, estimated at 200-300. A clay bottle of Armagnac bears a hand-written inscription saying "about 1890". Located at Mitterrand’s private residence in Paris’s Rue de Bievre, the cellar also contains a 1957 Fonseca port, estimated at 40, presented to him by Portugal to commemorate its entry into the European Union. There are also a number of good German wines, Mr de Maigret said. He could not say if they had been presented to Mr Mitterrand by the former German chancellor, Helmut Kohl.

"The cellar is in good order: the temperature is almost constant and cool," Mr de Maigret said.

The oldest wine is a 1924 magnum from Chateau le Desert, which no longer exists, in Bordeaux’s Graves region, which the auctioneers estimate at 40-60.

The cellar also contains a sauterne from the exclusive Chateau d’Yquem, and a case of six 1990 Mouton Rothschild bottles of Pauillac premier cru.

Mrs Mitterrand is selling the cellar to make space for her daughter-in-law, an artist who wants to use it as a studio.