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UK government to auction top wines from official cellar

The UK Government will auction wines from its official cellar for the first time, selling off valuable wines that are 'approaching or are at peak drinking'.

The Government wine cellar holds nearly 40,000 bottles

A handful of lots, with an estimated total value of £50,000, will be featured in Christie’s Fine & Rare Wines sale on 21 March.

The wines – such as a six-bottle case of 1970 Chateau Petrus (high estimate £6,000); 12 bottles of 1986 Le Pin (£10,000); and 12 bottles of 1986 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild (£6,000) – have been stored in the Government Hospitality Cellar in Lancaster House, near Buckingham Palace, since they were purchased from UK merchants.

The long-established cellar, which is stocked and monitored by a committee that includes government officials and industry consultants, provides the wine for government functions.

‘The government has a huge quantity of wine, and is selling bottles that are approaching or are at peak drinking,’ explained David Elswood, Christie’s international head of wine.

‘They are rationalising their cellar, making sure they don’t have too much of a particular wine.’

Elswood told Decanter.com that this would be the first of a series of such sales, but said it was difficult to assess any added value from the source of the wines.

Following a 2011 decision, the Government will review and report to Parliament annually on costs, consumption, purchases and value of the wine cellar.

The wines offered through Christie’s will for the first time have a Prooftag security seal, guaranteeing provenance.

Elswood said Christie’s would from now on make this a routine measure for high-value wines that have not moved since their original purchase.

Written by Maggie Rosen

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