French top UK government wine sales

The cellar revealed

Cognac from the government cellar

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French wines have proved to be most popular for purchases from the UK government's cellars over the past year, a foreign office minister says.

Mark Simmonds told MPs in a written ministerial statement that English wines were the second most popular.

Sales of stock totalled £44,000, according to the first annual statement on use of the wine cellar.

The government's wine cellar escaped the austerity axe in 2011, with a pledge to become "self-financing".

Mr Simmonds said: "The wine cellar has already moved to a self-funding regime, through the sale of some high-value stock."

The wine cellar received £10,519 from other government departments, to help more than cover the wine purchases of £48,955.

The wine cellar, run by the Foreign Office, had its future reviewed after the 2010 election, but survived after it found that the cellar was the cheapest way to supply wine for hospitality events.

The wine is used to help resource government hospitality, business hospitality and entertain visiting dignitaries and heads of state.

It lies beneath a grand London mansion, owned by the Queen and leased to the government.

The government's oldest wines and spirits

Product Vintage, region Govt assessment Malcolm Gluck's view

Source: Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Dec 2010); Malcolm Gluck, wine expert

Red wine

Oldest wine: Chateau Latour, 1er cru classe, Pauillac

1955, Bordeaux, France

"Drink on special occasions…Spectacular. The essence of a wonderful claret."

"An arthritic liquid at least 40 years past its best."


Oldest Champagne: Krug, Brut, Reims

1964, Champagne-Ardenne, France

"Drink slowly. Special occasions only."

"You would need to drink it slowly otherwise you might think you were slurping some sort of cobwebby medicine."


Oldest port: Quinta do Noval

1931, Douro Valley, Portugal

"A real 'national treasure'...Sublime - best this century."

"This might be interesting. Port is fortified and so lasts for decades."


Oldest brandy: Grands Fins Bois Cognac, Charente

1878, Poitou-Charentes, France

"Drink very sparingly…Excellent…superlative even. Fiery and delicious."

"Yep, though if it is fiery then it isn't much good, as old cognac has to be mellow and luxurious."

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