The 151st Hospices de Beaune auction took a higher total than last year – but prices were down overall.
The most striking shortfall was the President’s Lot, the annual special cuvée, a centrepiece of Sunday’s auction, which went for €110,000 (US$150,000), scarcely a quarter of last year’s hammer price.
In 2010 the final figure of €5,132,075 was inflated by an astonishing bid of €400,000 for the President’s Lot.
This year, the special cuvée was a Grand Cru Corton Clos du Roi, Cuvée Baronne du Baÿ, in a specially- made 460 litre barrel. It was bought by Stephen Williams of The Antique Wine Company in London.
The auction took place in Beaune, Burgundy, yesterday. Buyers bid for barrels of wine produced 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 was €5,402,333 for 618 barrels of red wine and 143 of white wine, including the President’s Lot.
The total is higher than last year, but 218 more barrels were auctioned – the 2010 vintage was much smaller than this year’s crop.
Prices were down by 6.21 % for the red wines and by 12.86% for the white wines. Although the Hospices is a charity auction, over the years it has come to be considered a barometer for the sales performance of the vintage.
Christie’s, which has run the auction since 2007, remained upbeat, pointing out that in a time of ‘economic uncertainty’ the sale room was full and bidding energetic.
Anthony Hanson MW, a senior consultant for Christie’s, said the fact that collectors and amateurs from 23 different countries were buying directly at the sale, ‘underlines the magnetic nature of this auction for wine lovers throughout the world.
‘There were numerous Asian buyers in the auction room, as well as in the streets of Beaune – immersing themselves in Burgundy’s traditional festivities.’
Hanson added, ‘2011 shows very great promise. Cuvées which attracted strong competitive bidding included Pommard Dames de la Charité, Corton Clos du Roi Baronne Du Baÿ, Volnay-Santenots Gauvin and Mazis-Chambertin, along with both Corton Charlemagnes.’
As ever, the primary importance of Asia was pointed out. Last year, a Christie’s press release said Asia overtook the USA for the first time in terms of the number of registered bidders and the value of wines acquired.
‘This trend was once again confirmed and Asia today represents 13% by value, [while] Europe accounted for 84% of the sale by value and the USA 3%.’
Written by Adam Lechmere