Watch CBS News

Wine lovers in London raise nearly $1 million for the rebuilding of Notre Dame

Notre Dame fire caused by electrical problem?
Notre Dame Cathedral fire may have been caused by electrical problem: report 02:35

Deep-pocketed wine lovers in London raised nearly $1 million Wednesday morning for the rebuilding of Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral. Sotheby's auctioned off 25 five-bottle cases from one of the world's most prestigious wine producers, Château Mouton Rothschild.

Wednesday's event was the second of three charity wine auctions from the famed winemaker. On April 1, Sotheby's sold the first 25 of the cases, dubbed Château Mouton Rothschild Versailles Celebration Cases, in Hong Kong, fetching just over $900,000. The last of the auctions will take place in New York on May 4.

The sales were originally meant to raise money for the restoration of the Palace of Versailles, France's opulent former royal residence. The five vintages included in the case — 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2013 — were selected because their labels were designed by artists who have had their work exhibited at Versailles.

But Monday's blaze at Notre Dame prompted the winemaker to change course and instead direct the proceeds to rebuilding the cathedral.

"Following tragic recent events, we are honored to contribute towards the reconstruction efforts of this national landmark that is an integral part of our French history," said Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, chairman and CEO of Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA, in an email to CBS News on Wednesday.

Unlike most wines, a bottle of Château Mouton Rothschild looks different every year. That's because the winemaker partners with a contemporary artist to create a label unique to the year.

Mouton Rothschild has worked with artists like Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Balthus. The artists featured in the case to be auctioned Wednesday are Giuseppe Penone, Bernar Venet, Anish Kapoor, Jeff Koons, and Lee Ufan.

The five bottles of Chateau Mouton Rothschild included in Sotheby's auction. Chateau Mouton Rothschild

Château Mouton Rothschild is one of just five "premier cru" producers in France's wine making region of Bordeaux. After becoming internationally recognized in Europe in the early 19th century, Napoleon III requested a classification system in 1855, ranking the wines of Bordeaux from first growth —  the best, or at least most expensive — to fifth growth. Or, as the French would say, "premier cru" to "cinquieme cru."

At the time, just four winemaker were awarded the coveted title of "premier cru," and initially Château Mouton Rothschild was not among them. Since the designation, Mouton Rothschild has been the only chateau successful in upping its classification. It climbed from second to first growth in 1973.

Today, a 2010 vintage of the wine can cost about $1,000 in a wine shop.

The funds from Wednesday's auction will add to the nearly $1 billion that's been pledged to rebuild the famous cathedral. François-Henri Pinault, the chief executive officer of Kering, a Paris-based luxury goods conglomerate, said Tuesday his family would give about $113 million to the restoration of Notre Dame. Kering's portfolio includes Château Latour, one of the other five "premier cru" vineyards in Bordeaux, France.

Successful bidders in Wednesday's auction won't just win five bottles of fabled wine and a good feeling from helping Notre Dame. Winners will also receive an invitation for them and a guest to attend a private visit and tasting at the Château's vineyard in Bordeaux as well as an invite to an exclusive dinner party at the Palace of Versailles in September. At the event, guests will be treated to a glass of Mouton Rothschild from 1945, a vintage that celebrated the end of World War II by simply drawing a "V" on the bottle.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.