The UK government has sold off more mature Bordeaux, including several bottles of Chateau Latour's acclaimed 1961 vintage, to balance the books in its wine cellar.
The UK government’s wine cellar lies underneath Lancaster House, near Buckingham Palace.
Austerity politics continued to seep into in the UK government’s wine cellar in the last financial year.
Ministers sanctioned the sale of 69 bottles of mature Bordeaux from some of the region’s best estates, of which the youngest was six bottles of Chateau Haut-Brion 1989.
Several bottles were sold to UK merchant Farr Vintners, while others were sold at auction, fetching a total £56,000 in the year to the end of March.
The sale included nine bottles of Latour 1961, described by Decanter Stephen Brook last year as ‘indestructable’.
There were several dozen bottles of the Latour ’61 in the cellar when Decanter was granted rare access just over a year ago, and it is only served at the most prestigious state dinners.
Wines have been sold off in the past two years after the government decreed that the cellar must be self-financing until the next General Election, scheduled for May 2015.
Other wines sold off were 12 bottles each of Ausone 1978, Margaux 1983, Mouton-Rothschild 1986 and Lafite-Rothschild 1988, as well as six bottles of Petrus 1978. Other government departments were also collectively charged £16,762 for using cellar wines at receptions.
The cellar’s hospitality team bought 3,810 bottles of wine for £50,054 in the last financial year. Its shopping list included 540 bottles of Bordeaux, as well as 180 bottles of non-vintage Champagne.
English wines constituted almost of half of all wine drunk at government functions during the 12 months. Chapel Down’s Bacchus 2012 is the pouring wine for general functions and the hospitality team bought a further 960 bottles during the year.
Concha y Toro Merlot remains the stock red wine for functions, and ministers bought 1,200 bottles over the year.
Written by Chris Mercer