In the red: British government to sell off fine wines
The British government wine cellar is set to get less corking after a minister announced plans Friday to sell the most expensive wines to help cut a record deficit.
The total value of the wine stored for VIP functions is more than £864,000 (992,000 euros, $1,410,000) and includes vintages such as Chateau Latour, Chateau Lafite, Chateau Margaux and Chateau Mouton Rothschild.
After a review as part of austerity measures by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, Foreign Office minister Henry Bellingham said there would be a "targeted sale of high-value stock" from the collection.
"I seriously considered abolishing the cellar, but all the evidence shows that we will save the taxpayer money by keeping the cellar and reforming it so that wine purchases are self-funded through sales," he said.
"The cellar has been part of government functions for nearly a century and through these reforms it will provide value for money, accountability and will continue to offer hospitality to important guests from around the world."
The review came after British lawmaker Tom Watson, a member of the opposition Labour party, revealed that the cellar contains a bottle of Chateau Petrus 1978 worth more than £2,500, among other top vintages.
Next to a bottle of Chateau Latour 1955, worth about £1,000, a note was found reading: "Drink on v. special occasions. Spectacular: no need now to hasten rundown of tiny stock. 'The essence of wonderful claret'. Fresh and lovely."
Meanwhile a bottle of Chateau Palmer 1975, which costs upwards of £120, is described as a "really old-fashioned style claret, rich and excellent with some austerity".
One unnamed prime minister writes that a Chateau Margaux 1961 is "silky".
There are also a number of bottles of champagne on the list which Watson obtained after a year-long battle with government officials, including magnums of Krug 1982, and Louis Roederer Brut from 1990.
© 2011 AFP