Marks & Spencer has announced it is the first UK high-street retailer to buy eight barrels of wine at the Hospices de Beaune.
The retailer bought four pièces (barrels) of Volnay 1er Cru Blondeau red and four pièces of Saint-Romain white.
The two wines have an anticipated launch date of Spring 2013 and will be bottled with the exclusive Hospices de Beaune label.
The purchase was made by M&S wine buyer Andy Howard MW at the auction in Burgundy last November.
Howard said the wines would be matured in the cellars of Mounir Saouma at Lucien Le Moine. Saouma has worked with M&S since 2004 on a number of Burgundies wines which are purchased en primeur, matured by him in his cellars until ready for bottling and then bottled and labelled under the M&S Caves de Colombe label.
M&S currently has four lines from Saouma – Nuits-Saints-Georges, Chambolle-Musigny, Meursault and Pouilly-Fuisse.
Howard said of Saouma, ‘As the man behind the highly regarded Lucien Le Moine label he has built a worldwide reputation for the quality of the wines he matures in his cellars. We tasted all the wines prior to the auction and were delighted to be successful in bidding for the two cuvées that we picked out as ideal for our customer.’
The Hospices de Beaune auction take place in Beaune, Burgundy at the end of November every year.
Buyers bid for 228-litre barrels of wine produced that year by the Domaine des Hospices de Beaune, with the proceeds going to the various charities supported by the Hospices, a 600-year-old almshouse which has benefitted over the years from gifts of vineyards.
The Domaine, which is a non-profit organisation, owns about 61ha of Grand Cru and Premier Cru vines.
The total raised in 2011 was €5,402,333 for 618 barrels of red wine and 143 of white wine.
Written by Adam Lechmere