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UK government fuels diplomacy with ‘terrific’ Bordeaux

Dozens of bottles of mature Bordeaux wines were served at official functions by the UK government last year, according to accounts that also reveal a strong showing for English wine.

Many of Bordeaux‘s biggest names feature on the list of wines uncorked at official functions, including Chateau Cheval Blanc, Montrose, Angelus, Pichon Lalande and Pichon Baron.

Consumption of wines from the government cellar rose by almost 15% in the tax year to the end of March 2015 versus the previous year, hitting around 5,516 bottles – due to more international conferences, according to a UK government wine cellar report released this week.

‘France dominates, with some terrific clarets, such as 1983 and 1986 Chateau Margaux and 1990 Leoville Las-Cases,’ said Decanter contributing editor Stephen Brook, after looking through the list.

Wines in the £3m cellar are categorised into different grades according the calibre of function and the status of the guest.

‘Surprisingly, many single bottles were consumed, conjuring up visions of a lonely junior minister ordering up a bottle of 2001 Haut-Brion,’ Brook added.

But, Brook said the overall list suggested ‘government officials and their guests drink well but not too extravagantly’.

Almost half of all bottles opened were English wine or Welsh wines, reflecting ministers’ commitment to supporting domestic winemakers.

Chapel Down‘s Bacchus is a stock government reception wine, while others served included Denbies Schonburger 2006, Chapel Down Pinot Reserve 2001, Breaky Bottom 1999 and Nyetimber classic Cuvee 2007.

Among other highlights noted by Brook is a ‘an eclectic selection of red Burgundies – nothing under 15 years old – that include Vosne Malconsorts from Potel; and among the white Burgundies are 2005 Corton-Charlemagne from Bonneau de Martra’.

He also picked out a Jaboulet 1990 Hermitage La Chapelle and several bottles of 1977 vintage Port from Dow, Taylor and Warre.

Around £71,000 of wines were also sold off in the year to help the government meet its commitment to make the cellar self financing for the duration of the previous parliament.

Those sold include six bottles of Latour 1961, 12 bottles of Margaux 1961 and 12 bottles of Lafite-Rothschild 1990. Over the year, cellar officials spent £70,000 to acquire wines for the cellar.

Read more about the UK government wine cellar:

UK Government sells off top Bordeaux

The UK government has sold off more mature Bordeaux, including several bottles of Chateau Latour's acclaimed 1961 vintage, to balance

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