|Clos de Griffier Champagne Cognac 1738
The Oldest Known Cognac
The earliest recorded surviving intact cognac bottle
Very early three part blown-in-the-mould dark olive glass bottle, most likely dating from 1830-
1840. Considerable crudity in the glass with two large bubbles apparent, one visible in the
photographs below. Applied glass seal on the shoulder, reading: CLOS DE GRIFFIER
CHAMPAGNE COGNAC DE 1738. Apparently original 19th century cork, no sign of recorking.
Cracked pale-mustard coloured wax. Ullage at lower shoulder, where one would expect for a
170 year old cork. No visible indication of seepage at all. Contents are clear and bright.
This cognac would have spent the first 10 to 30 years of its life in cask, and would then likely
have been stored in demijohns until bottling at the time of its first centenary in the 1830’s.
This bottle was removed from the cellars of the famed Parisian restaurant Lucas Carton in 1985.
Located on the Place de Madelaine, Lucas Carton was founded in 1732 by Robert Lucas as a “Taverne anglaise”, specializing
in cold meats and puddings. In 1890 it was purchased by Scaliet, who in 1904-1905 created its extraordinary Art Nouveau
interior after designs of Louis Majorelle and Etinne de Gounevitch. In 1925 Francis Carton, a restauranteur who had won
renown at the Café Anglais, bought the restaurant recognized at that time as "Lucas" and attached his own name to it.
Carton redesigned the entrance to include a revolving door, which he framed with an art deco grid topped by half-moon
canopy designed to diffuse an indirect light. On the first floor, he added seven small rooms accessible by a door from a
passageway of the Madeleine. Many politicians met in that area of the restaurant. Chef Marc
Soustel established the culinary reputation of Lucas Carton and eventually came to own it in 1945. His daughter inherited
the restaurant in 1982. In 1985 it was purchased by the well known and sometimes controversial chef Alain Senderens, one
of the leading lights of the Nouvelle Cuisine movement. Senderens surrendered the restaurants Michelin stars and re-
opened it under the name “Senderens” as a very high end bistrot, serving lighter, less formal food. As part of this process,
the legendary winelist of the restaurant was drastically simplified, and many of the rarest bottles from its famed cellars sold
off – including this remarkable bottle of cognac.
This bottle is undoubtedly from the same original source as the 1788 Cafe Anglais bottle (see below), and no doubt entered
the cellars of Lucas Carton during the period of ownership of Francis Carton, who was linked to both establishments.
To the very best of my knowledge, this is, by some distance, the oldest intact original cognac bottle in existence, certainly
the oldest in private hands. The 1788 Clos de Griffier shown at the bottom of this page was widely referred to as the oldest
known cognac at the time of its sale in December 2009. The only claimed earlier bottle is a 1770 acquired by the
Lanesborough Hotel during Salvatore Calabrese’s time there, although this bottle seems to have been dated by cellar
records alone, it has no label or dated seal on the bottle. The “Old Liquors” collection refers to a date of 1748, but the oldest
bottle actually shown is a Remy Martin 1780.
There appears to be absolutely no record or even oblique reference anywhere to a cognac dated earlier than 1748, so
this unique bottle, nearly THREE CENTURIES OLD has a very strong claim to be regarded as “The Oldest Cognac in
Vieux Cognac Clos de Griffier 1788, with the label of the Cafe Anglais.
From the cellars of the famed Tour d'Argent restaurant in Paris.
Click on the images to see enlarged versions.
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