Foreign Affairs wine sale yields €11,000

Makes €50 profit for the taxpayer


The Department of Foreign Affairs has sold more than €11,000 worth of wine from its Iveagh House cellars, including its stocks of Chateau Lynch-Bages (pictured far right) from various vintages, after Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore decided to stock only modestly priced labels for official use.

Mr Gilmore ordered a review of his department’s wine earlier this year and decided to clear out the more expensive bottles.

He also introduced a guideline that any wines bought should be priced between €10 and €20. Sources say the majority of bottles in the department are now valued at below €30.

The sale of 185 bottles of Bordeaux wine to a single buyer for €11,160 resulted in a modest profit of €50 on their purchase price. The department would not identify the buyer for commercial reasons beyond confirming it was a wine merchant based in Ireland.

It hopes to raise €40,000 from the sale of all its expensive labels, but not all of them have been put on the market yet.

“The wine market is not very buoyant at the moment. We won’t be having a firesale,” a source said.

The bottles sold comprised 31 bottles of 1998 Chateau Lynch-Bages originally bought for €58.65 per bottle; 24 bottles of 2001 Chateau Lynch-Bages which originally cost €79 each; 120 bottles of 2006 Chateau Lynch-Bages which cost the department a total of €7,178.40 or €59.82 per bottle; and 10 bottles of 1998 La Reserve de Leoville Barton which cost €21.82 each. No wine was bought by the department this year, and all the bottles sold were bought before 2011.

Irish connection
The sale means the Department of Foreign Affairs no longer has any bottles of Chateau Lynch-Bages in stock. It has long been a favourite for high-level corporate entertaining in Ireland, mainly on account of its Irish connection in that it is named after John Lynch, who left Ireland in 1691.

Other wines understood to be identified for sale include 22 bottles of 1997 Chateau Leoville Barton bought for €75 each in 2006, and 33 bottles of 2000 Chateau Kirwan which cost €65 each in 2006.

A review of the wine cellar this year deemed a third of the 2,343 bottles in stock at the time to be “tradeable”, and the collection had an overall value of €77,767. The latest valuation for the existing stock of 1,825 bottles is €60,870.

Commenting on the sale which has gone through, a spokesperson said: “The sale amounts to 15 per cent of the value of the stock held by the department [at the time of sale], and 9 per cent of the number of bottles held.

“The four wines were sold to a wine merchant based in Ireland. For reasons of commercial sensitivity, it is not intended to reveal the name of the purchaser.”