In spite of a highly praised 2002 Burgundy vintage, prices at the 142nd Hospices de Beaune Charity wine auction have fallen for the second year running.

In total, €3,489,320 was raised at the sale in Beaune, Burgundy on Sunday. Last year, the figure was €3,845,999.

Prices for the 39 lots (comprising 691 pieces) were down by just under 9% compared to 2001, even though observers regarded it as a far superior vintage. Red wines fell by 8.86% and white wines by 8.3%.

However, the Burgundian negociants were far from down-beat. Frederic Drouhin of Joseph Drouhin was pleased with the outcome.

‘The prices are not a reflection of the quality of the vintage, but of the state of the global economy. There’s a surplus of stock in merchants’ cellars, so a drop in prices here could help ease that pressure.’

Not every lot price was down at the Hospices auction, which was attended by the actress Chiara Mastroanni as well as merchants, restaurateurs, buyers and consumers from all over the world.

Star performers included the Mazis Chambertin Cuvee Madeleine Collignon which was up by nearly 18% on last year.

The Clos de la Roche Cuvee Georges Kritter was up by 12.5%. This year’s Charity lot, the 1er Cru Cuvee des Dames Hospitalieres, bought by Maison Louis Max also raised an impressive €52,000.

Historically, the Hospices de Beaune auction has been the benchmark of prices and quality for the new Burgundy vintage.

‘There’s no direct link with the market, but the sale often indicates which way prices are heading,’ Bruno Pepin, export director of Bouchard Pere et Fils said.

For consumers, a cut in prices for the 2002s would be welcome news, not least because growers and negociants alike were describing it as a good to excellent vintage.

Corinne Rousseau of Domaine Armand Rousseau in Gevrey Chambertin believes 2002 is exceptional for white and red. ‘It has everything – low yields, concentration, good sugar levels and high acidity. I think it will be better than 1999 and much better than 2001.’

Written by John Stimpfig19 November 2002