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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 October 2007, 10:08 GMT 11:08 UK
Rare wine finds to be uncorked
Xenia Irwin with wine collection
Xenia Irwin discovered the collection in a side room
Wine lovers are being offered the chance to taste some recently discovered rare vintage wines dating back to 1875 at a Devon fair.

Nearly 400 bottles of vintage wine were discovered at St Austell Brewery in Cornwall last month.

The brewery's wine expert Xenia Irwin thinks the collection was amassed by previous directors over the decades.

It includes an 1875 cognac which may have belonged to the brewery's founder, Walter Hicks.

Xenia Irwin's pick of the collection
1916 Chateau Rieussec: bottled in World War I, very few war-time vintages would have left France
1950 Mouton Rothschild: one of only five Premier Cru Classe wines from Bordeaux
1953 Chateau Lafite Premier Cru Classe: one of France's top wines and a classic vintage
1961 Rauzan Segla: 1961 is renowned as one of the best vintages of the 20th century

Mrs Irwin discovered the collection in a side room in the Brewery's cellars after forcing open the jammed but unlocked door to find rack upon rack of dusty bottles.

Xenia said: "I've been involved in the wine business now for more than 19 years and could never have dreamed of making such an exceptional discovery.

"The door to the ante-room in the cellar was very stiff but unlocked so anyone could have gone in there but it clearly hadn't been entered in decades.

"I couldn't believe what I saw and then I started brushing off the cobwebs and looking at the labels and that's when I got really excited."

Mrs Irwin said she was confident that some of the wines had survived and would be drinkable.

Four bottles from the collection will be opened at the Walter Hicks Fine wine fair taking place at the Abode Hotel, Exeter, and is where wine customers have the opportunity to sample the range of wines as well as meet experts and wine growers.

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