This year's Hospices de Beaune auction has achieved a record sales total, raising over EUR6.3m, despite the smallest volume of wine on sale for three decades.
The total take of EUR6.3m (GBP5.3m) was a considerable increase on the EUR5.9m raised in 2012.
The 153rd annual auction only saw 333 barrels go under the hammer, compared to 516 last year and 700 in 2011. But. the average price per barrel was just over EUR13k, a 26.6% increase over last year’s average.
In a new departure, a Chinese buyer bought the president’s lot. The 456-litre barrel of Meursault Genevrieres Premier Cru, Cuvée Philippe Le Bon sold for EUR131,000 to Chinese tea plantation and jade mine owner Ms Yan-Hong Cao, from the southeastern province of Yunan.
Experts who tasted the wines before the auction were ‘often surprised’ by the quality, remarked Roland Masse, manager Domaine des Hospices de Beaune. He said staff had never worked so hard to select high quality grapes, due to a difficult 2013 vintage in Burgundy.
‘These are very clean wines, they must have sorted grapes with tweezers,’ said Michael Apstein, of Wine Review Online, during a pre-sale tasting.
Auction results sometimes reflect market trends, and the increased prices per barrel for the 2013 auction are expected to be mirrored by rising prices for the 2013 vintage across much of Burgundy, said commented Philippe Prost, director at negociant-producer Bouchard Pere & Fils.
Yan-Hong Cao, buyer of the president’s lot, said, ‘I am so happy to have this barrel. Bordeaux and Burgundy wines are always welcome in China, but I like Burgundy more.’
Over bidding for the lot, French actor Jean-Pierre Castaldi, copresident of the auction along with French actress Clotilde Courau, encouraged teh Chinese to bid higher. Proceeds form the barrel will benefit the Petits Princes and Les Papillons Blancs charities.
Star cuvees included Clos de la Roche Cuvee Georges Kritter, which fetched EUR70,620 and Batard Montrachet Dames des Flandres at EUR65,270.
Many bids surpassed auction estimates. ‘These fine results confirm the excellent work of the Hospices de Beaune team, who produced some exceptional wines in 2013,’ said Anthony Hanson MW, senior Christie’s consultant for the sale.
This article was amended on 19/11/2013 to state that the 153rd auction achieved all-time record sales. Previously, it was indicated by organisers that sales were the highest since the year 2000.
Written by Panos Kakaviatos