May 30 - Wines that have often provided liquid courage for heads of state thrashing out bilateral policy at the French presidential palace go under the hammer at the Elysee Palace cellar auction. Tara Cleary reports.
French President Francois Hollande receives another guest at the Elysee Palace. They might enjoy a superior wine from the presidential home's cellar - the impressive collection has been greasing the cogs of diplomacy for decades. But now, even this national treasure is being affected by austerity measures. For the first time Elysee Palace is selling some of its wines. Auctioneer Ghislaine Kapandji explains the sale should save the government hundreds of thousands of euros. SOUNDBITE: Ghislaine Kapandji, auctioneer, saying (French): "Each year, the Elysee Palace partly renews its cellar, making new purchases, and obviously there is a budget for that. This sale allows the Elysee to self-finance the renewal of the cellar to the tune of 250,000 euros." Cellar conditions here are ideal for aging wine and some bottles, like this 1990 Petrus, which could sell for as much as 2,200 euros, that's nearly $3,000 U.S. dollars. Not a wine you're likely to gulp down in a hurry. But for those looking to quench an eager thirst, there are some bottles available for as little as 15 euros.