Burgundy wine prices jumped by an amazing 25% at the latest Hospices de Nuits auction.

The sale, although for charity, is a distinct pointer as to the trend to be set by producers throughout the Cote d’Or for the 2003 vintage.

Whilst the sale each November at the Hospices de Beaune is better publicised, buyers frequently find it difficult to assess such immature wines which are presented within weeks of the grapes being harvested.

For the Hospices de Nuits auction, which takes place every March, wines have passed through both the alcoholic and malolactic fermentations and are starting to show their true character.

The wines sold – all from the 2003 harvest – come from 11.3ha of vineyards bequeathed to the Hospices, an 800 year-old institution. They are made by the Hospices and then sold at the auction by the barrel, or ‘pièce’.

The average price per barrel this year has risen from €3,119 to €3,924.36 euros. The first lot – which always receives great publicity – was a Nuits Premier Cru Les Murgers, Cuvée Guyard de Changey, which went for €4,500.

The most expensive wine was €5,400 for Nuits Premier Cru Les St Georges, Cuvée des Sires de Vergy, which showed wonderful subtle Pinot Noir character. The lowest price was €2,600 for Nuits Les St Julien Les Plateaux, Cuvée Claude Poyen.

In total €310,000 was raised for 78 barrels of fine red and white Burgundy compared to €448,800 for 138 barrels in 2002 – a far larger yielding crop.

The hospital of Nuits St Georges dates from 1270 and was destroyed in the civil and religious wars but refounded in 1633. In the 1930s it became a centre for those suffering from respiratory diseases. In 1961 it was redesignated as a nursing home.

Written by Conal Gregory MW