- Ministers cut consumption ahead of general election
- Bottles of Latour 1961 sold to cover costs
- Xi Jinping banquet ate into stocks of Haut-Brion 1989
Officials sold six bottles of the lauded Château Latour 1961 from the UK government wine cellar to private clients, including Farr Vintners, the British Embassy in Paris and the Saintsbury Club.
They led a £40,000 sell-off of mature wines as the Foreign Office sought to balance the books for its £3 million hospitality cellar in the bowels of Lancaster House near Buckingham Palace.
Wines in the cellar are used for all official government functions and are graded to suit the prestige of the occasion.
Ministers overall opened a third fewer wines during the tax year to April 2016, show records published this week.
Consumption fell partly because of ‘disruption’ caused by the 2015 general election, a government statement said.
But, ministers still opened 3,730 bottles, including 53 spirits and brandies.
A state visit of Chinese premier Xi Jinping appears to have eaten into the cellar’s stocks of Haut-Brion 1989.
Officials served the wine to Xi and dignatories at a special Buckingham Palace banquet in October 2015.
Cellar records show that 32 bottles of Haut-Brion 1989 were opened during the last tax year.
Several hundred bottles of English wine were also opened during the last tax year, including Ridgeview Grosvenor Brut 2009, Breaky Bottom Brut Reserve and Camel Valley Brut from the 2008 vintage and Nyetimber Classic Cuvee 2007.
Origin of wines opened during the year:
British officials want share of EU assets, says report...
Few civilians get a glimpse into the UK Government's inner chambers, but in a century-old cellar, Chris Mercer discovers Latour