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Competition ‘intense’ for UK government cellar wines

Competition for wines being sold off by the UK Government, including bottles of Latour 1961, has been described as 'intense' by Christie's.

Bidders vied for the opportunity to pick some of the 20th Century’s most celebrated wines at the sale, held by Christie’s as part of a larger auction in London this week.

‘The much anticipated collection of Bordeaux from the Government Hospitality Fund Cellar sparked intense competition and was sold 100%, realising £74,406,’ said David Elswood, Christie’s’ international director of wine in Europe and Asia.

Ministers have ruled that the cellar, situated under Lancaster House near Buckingham Palace, must be self-financing for the remainder of the present Parliament, set to run until 2015. The cellar holds 38,000 bottles and has a value of close to £3m.

Among the highlights of this week’s auction, an anonymous Asian buyer outbidded rivals to take a six-bottle haul of the cellar’s Chateau Latour 1961 for around £28,000, albeit slightly below Christie’s’ top estimate of £30,000.

When Decanter magazine paid a rare visit to the Government cellar for a feature in its April edition, Robert Alexander OBE, head of Government Hospitality, said stocks of Latour ’61 ‘make up a significant proportion of the overall value of the cellar’.

Other highlights of the government cellar auction included six bottles of Petrus 1970, which sold for £10,530, versus a high estimate of £6,000.

A 12-bottle lot of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1986 fetched £9,360, also beating a top, pre-auction estimate of £6,000.

Altogether, the whole Christie’s fine and rare wines auction was 86% sold by lot and 94% sold by value, generating £806,498 in sales.

Written by Chris Mercer

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