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UK government buying more English wine for its cellar – figures

New figures have revealed the government spent £73,000 on bottles for its hospitality cellar in the year up to March 2020, including major purchases of English and Welsh wines.

Purchases for the UK government hospitality wine cellar hit £73,091 in the year to 31 March 2020, up by around £26,000 on the 2018/19 financial year.

English and Welsh wines accounted for nearly three-quarters of purchased wine by volume, and more than 50% by value, said a government report published yesterday (15 July).

This included 1,440 bottles of Chapel Down Bacchus from the 2017 and 2018 vintages to serve at official receptions.

Italy’s Allegrini Valpolicella 2018 was another reception wine purchased in the 2019/20 financial year, with 480 bottles acquired.

Fine wine sales since 2012 have made the hospitality cellar self-funding, but it still had a market value of approximately £3.2m by 31 March 2020.

Located below Lancaster House near Buckingham Palace, it is used for a range of official functions right up to full state visits.

Overall consumption of wines from the cellar fell by 17.5% in 2019/20, but UK wines represented 56% of bottles drunk, showed the government report.

By 31 March 2020, there were 32,921 bottles of wine and spirits with a ‘cost value’ of £810,896.

A sale of wines were not possible in 2020 due to the outbreak of Covid-19, the government said, although it added that £50,000 of stock had been earmarked for sale and that around £23,000 was recovered from other departments.

In the previous year, the team raised £44,200 via sales, including by selling 24 bottles of Château Margaux 1988, 12 bottles of Le Pin 1986, 12 bottles of Château Haut-Brion 1989 and six magnums of Krug 1982 – all to Farr Vintners.

Many governments around the world will carefully select wines for specific occasions, from receptions to state visits by foreign leaders.

At the recent G7 summit in Cornwall, British officials served sparkling wine from Camel Valley winery, as well as Australian Shiraz and German Riesling.

Meanwhile, French president Emmanuel Macron was reported to have packed a bottle of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s fabled ‘Romanée-Conti’ wine from the 1978 vintage for a state visit to China in 2019.

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