It’s 14,000 bottles strong.

By Mike Pomranz
September 17, 2018
DOMINIQUE FAGET/Getty Images

France, more than any other country in the world, is known for its wine—so you can only assume that a French presidential wine cellar featuring 14,000 bottles collected from all of the country’s growing regions must be a sight to behold. And for one weekend, a small group of people actually got to see it: On Saturday and Sunday, President Emmanuel Macron opened the cellar to the public for the first time ever.

About 350 people who were lucky enough to book reservations online were said to be the first members of the public to ever be granted access to this massive cellar located two stories below ground at the Elysée Palace, according to the Telegraph. Though in-house sommelier Virginie Routis says that all regions are represented, some areas curry more favor than others. About half the bottles are from Bordeaux and another quarter are from Burgundy, leaving all the other regions to fight for the remaining 25 percent. Meanwhile, wines from outside France are supposedly not welcome at all. Though the cellar was created in 1947, the oldest bottle is reportedly a Sauternes from 1906.

This rare glimpse of what sounds like one of France’s little-known national treasures took place in honor of European Heritage Days, where sites and monuments across Europe are opened to the public free of charge. According to the Associated Press, the tour also included a look at other inner-workings of the palace including the kitchen and florist area—the former of which has a full set of copper pots and pans made from 1845 to 1865 that are still used every single day.

But the wine cellar was considered the big attraction, in part because though the first room—stocked with classic wines for things like simple lunches—is always open to the staff, the larger main cellar is reportedly kept under lock and key. It kind of sounds like the French equivalent of getting access to the nuclear codes.

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