UK Government to Exploit Wine Investment Interest with Trophy Clarets

By: Tsveta van Son
Tsveta van Son
Tsveta van Son is part of Invezz’s journalist team. She has a BA degree in European Studies and a… read more.
on Mar 2, 2013

The British government is reportedly seeking to take advantage of this year’s revived interest in fine wine investment by putting up several trophy Bordeaux labels from the Government Hospitality Cellar in this month’s Christie’s International sale in London.

**UK Government to Part with Trophy Clarets**
Bloomberg reported on March 1 that the UK government intended to sell valuable French wine at Christie’s International auction on March 21, as part of the national austerity drive. The selection to be offered to wine collectors and investors is reported to include six lots of Bordeaux with trophy labels such as Chateau Latour, Lafite and Petrus. Bloomberg quoted Christie’s as saying in an e-mail statement that the lots range in vintages from 1961 to 1988 and that they’re expected to raise £65,000.

“I warmly welcome this auction of wine from the Government Wine Cellar,” Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds said in a statement, adding that the auction of government wines was part of the process of making the cellar self-financing for the lifetime of the current parliament.
The lot expected to generate the most wine investment interest includes six bottles of Chateau Latour 1961, valued pre-auction at £20,000 to £30,000. Full cases of Chateau Le Pin and Chateau Mouton – Rothschild’s 1986 vintages have been accorded high estimates of £10,000 and £6,000 respectively, while a case of Lafite-Rothschild ’88 is priced at £6,000 to £8,000.

**“Too Valuable to Drink”**
Bloomberg quoted Susan Crown, a Foreign Office spokeswoman, as saying that those vintages were “too valuable to drink”. She also noted that their sale would help pay for running the cellar and will fund the purchase of less expensive wines.
On 11 February Decanter magazine reported that last year thousand-pound bottles of Domaine de la Romanee Conti, Cheval Blanc, Cos d’Estournel and other fine wines were served at UK government official functions. Among high-end Bordeaux wines opened at official dinners were 23 bottles of Chateau Margaux 1982, with a price tag of £700 per bottle, and 25 bottles of Margaux 1986, priced at £388 each. Decanter also reported that the Foreign Office spent about £49,000 on wine purchases in the year ended March 2012, selling £44,000 of its own stock.

**Bordeaux Recovery**
!m[](/uploads/story/1549/thumbs/pic1_inline.png)The upcoming Christie’s sale comes at a time when Bordeaux wines are enjoying a revival of wine investment attention. Bloomberg has reported that the Liv-ex fine wine 50 index, which tracks trading in the 10 most recent vintages of Bordeaux’s five first-growths, was at 321.58 on February 28. In addition, as noted on the Liv-ex website, the broader Liv-ex fine wine 100 index posted a 3.05 percent gain in February, suggesting that a wider recovery is under way in the fine wine market.

Top clarets have also enjoyed healthy wine investment interest at recent auctions, with a 12-bottle case of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1982 selling for £34,500, comfortably above its upper estimate of £30,000, at Christie’s February sale in London. In Sotheby’s (NYSE:BID) February auction in New York, a case of 2011 Yquem yet to be bottled went under the hammer for $24,500 (£17,000), well north of its high estimate of $10,000.

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