RELEASE: Wines from the Government Hospitality Cellar at Christie's in 21 March, London

Christie’s is pleased to announce that a selection of fine wines from the Government Hospitality Cellar will be offered in the sale of Fine & Rare Wines including a Superb Private Collection of Rare Large Formats, on the 21 March 2013.


London – Christie’s is pleased to announce that a selection of fine wines from the Government Hospitality Cellar will be offered in the sale of Fine & Rare Wines including a Superb Private Collection of Rare Large Formats, on the 21 March 2013. Located at Lancaster House, near Buckingham Palace (London), the Cellar serves the government committee and their guests from Kings and Queens to Presidents and Prime Ministers. Leading the auction are six bottles of the highly sought after vintage 1961 Château Latour (lot 207, estimate: £20,000-£30,000, illustrated above).The exceptional provenance and quality of the wines from this cellar provide international wine collectors and enthusiasts around the world with a rare opportunity. Overall, the collection is expected to realise in the region of £50,000, with estimates ranging from £3,500 to £30,000.

David Elswood, International Director of Christie’s Wine in Europe and Asia said:

This is a truly rare opportunity for buyers to have the chance to pull the cork from a bottle of very fine wine that comes with the unique storage provenance of the Government Hospitality Fund's very own cellars.

Mark Simmonds, Foreign Office Minister: “I warmly welcome this auction of wine from the Government Wine Cellar. This is part of the process for making the cellar self-funding for the lifetime of the current Parliament.”


 The establishment of the former Government Hospitality Fund in 1908 to provide hospitality for high-level overseas government guests led eventually to the requirement to create a government wine cellar. Located in the basement of Lancaster House for many years, the Government Hospitality wine cellar is an exemplar of professional cellar management over many decades. Wines are bought young and held in the cellar in ideal conditions; so that they can be used when fully mature. The cellar has been maintained on traditional lines, with a great depth of quality of French wines, notably Bordeaux and Burgundy. The selection of wines for the cellar is carried out on the recommendation of the Government Hospitality Wine Committee. The Chairman and the four Masters of Wine members of the Committee make their selections for purchases based on blind tastings. Wines are then occasionally reviewed throughout their life to determine quality, longevity, and readiness for drinking.

Today Government Hospitality still manages in excess of 200 events per year for all government departments and ministers, from the Prime Minister down. Many of the wines included in this sale have been served across the decades to Kings and Queens, Presidents and Prime Ministers. The following lots 207 to 212 have been removed directly from the Government Hospitality cellars at Lancaster House, London, where they have been stored since original purchase from top UK merchants. To preserve the exceptional provenance each bottle has been given a numbered Prooftag Bubble Seal™ affixed by Christie’s on the neck of the bottle. All are packed in Christie’s cartons.


Thursday 21 March 2013



Lot 207

Château Latour, vintage 1961

Paulillac, 1er cru classé, six bottles


Tasting notes:

Port-like, with an unctuous texture, and a dark garnet colour with considerable amber at the edge, the 1961 Latour possesses a viscosity and thickness. One of the three bottles served at the Château’s tasting revealed a surprisingly aggressive, minty, herbaceous nose, but the other two bottles were liquid perfection, exhibiting fragrant, cedary, truffle, leather, mineral, and sweet, jammy aromatics, full-bodied, voluptuous textures, exquisite purity and concentration, and a layered, highly-nuanced finish that represents the essence of compellingly great wine. The 1961 has been fully mature for over 15 years, but it seems to get richer, holding onto its succulence and fat, and developing more aromatic nuances without losing any sweetness or concentration. An extraordinary wine, it is unquestionably one of the Bordeaux legends of the century! Anticipated maturity: now-2025. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate #129 Jun 2000


Estimate: £20,000-30,000




Lot 208

Pétrus, vintage 1970

Pomerol, cru exceptional, six bottles


Tasting notes:

This dark garnet-coloured wine shows considerable amber at the edge. I have always had a tendency to taste this side by side with the 1971, and it has been fascinating how the 1971 was fully mature at a much younger age yet continued to hold onto life without losing any of its seductive fruit and intensity. The 1970 started off life more tannic, backward, massive, but needing considerable time and it has now hit full stride. It is a profound Pétrus, and certainly one of the great Pétrus of the last half century. The wine has a huge nose of cedar, caramel, vanilla, tobacco, fruitcake, and liquorice-infused black cherry jam. It is unctuously textured and very full-bodied, with extraordinary sweetness and glycerin, and a layered, viscous finish. This wine should continue to drink well for at least another 20 years. Anticipated maturity: Now-2025. Last tasted, 11/02. Robert Parker, Bordeaux Book, 4th Edition Jan 2003


Estimate: £4,000-6,000


Lot 209

Pétrus, vintage 1978

Pomerol, cru exceptional, six bottles


No Tasting Note provided


Estimate: £3,500-5,000














Lot 210

Château Mouton Rothschild, vintage 1986 

Pauillac, 1er cru classé, twelve bottles


Tasting notes:


Reputedly to be outstandingly the best ‘86. Time will tell. In the mid to late 1990s, impressive, fragrant, very tannic. In 2003: opaque, intense; a wine of vast dimensions. Two very recent notes: still immature; crisp fruit, taut, bricky; full-bodied, slightly raw but spicy, rich, chewy. Good length, hard tannins. Nowhere near ready. Last tasted Nov 2005. Hopefully *(****) 2010- M.B.


Estimate: £5,000-6,000



Lot 211

Le Pin, vintage 1986

Pomerol, twelve bottles


Tasting notes:

One of the more structured examples of Le Pin, and still surprisingly youthful for a wine that critics say needs to be drunk in its first 5-10 years, this dark garnet-coloured wine has notes of liquorice, loamy soil scents, sweet black cherries and currants along with some truffle and vanilla. The wine is medium-bodied with a certain firmness and delineation, and less of the charm, glycerin, and opulence that the ripe, more generous vintages provide. The finish is long and almost Médoc-like. Anticipated maturity: Now-2015. Last taste, 12/01. Robert Parker, Bordeaux Book, 4th Edition Jan 2003.


Estimate: £7,500-10,000




Lot 212

Château Lafite Rothschild, vintage 1988

Pauillac, 1er cru classé, twelve bottles


Tasting notes:

Most recently, still very deep, intense, opaque core but on the verge of maturity; high Cabernet Sauvignon noticeable though overall subdued; on the palate, sweet, almost chewable, with a good, long, dry finish. Last tasted March 2006 *** (**) 2008-2020. M.B.


Estimate: £6,000-8,000


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*Please note when quoting estimates above that other fees will apply in addition to the hammer price - see Section D of the Conditions of Sale at the back of the sale catalogue.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and are reported net of applicable fees.