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Government wine sell off urged

The Government is sitting on a wine cellar worth tens of thousands of pounds, an MP has revealed.

Labour former minister Tom Watson (West Bromwich East) has asked the Government to reveal its wine list for more than 13 months but his requests have been continually rebuffed.

On Tuesday, he was finally handed the list which includes a Chateau Petrus 1978 worth more than £2,500.

Next to a bottle of Chateau Latour 1955, worth about £1,000, is the note: "Drink on v. special occasions. Spectacular: no need now to hasten rundown of tiny stock. 'The essence of wonderful claret'. Fresh and lovely."

A bottle of Chateau Palmer 1975, prices of which start at a frugal £120, is said to be a "really old-fashioned style claret, rich and excellent with some austerity", while a Chateau Margaux 1961 was described apparently by one unnamed prime minister as "silky".

Bottles of champagne to make rap-stars blush are also on the list, including magnums of Krug 1982, said to be "still delicious and fresh", and Louis Roederer Brut from 1990.

Mr Watson said the most valuable wines should be sold off as part of an effort to cut the Government's deficit.

He said: "They should sell the good stuff to make ends meet. As the economy heads back into recession nobody will seriously believe that we are all in this together when ministers are quaffing wines at £200 a bottle.

"It has taken over 13 months to wrench this database out of the private ownership of Whitehall mandarins and in to the open for the public to scrutinise.

"David Cameron says he wants us to live in the new age of transparency. He's failed the test on this one."

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