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Burgundy wine fans queue for a month to get prized bottles

Burgundy wine lovers have again spent weeks camped outside Norway’s state alcohol retailer for a chance to buy the region’s most precious bottles, including Romanée-Conti Grand Cru.

Tents have become a familiar winter fixture outside a main store of Norway’s Vinmonopolet retailer in Oslo, and a small group of Burgundy wine fans again braved sub-zero temperatures in January to lead the queue for new releases.

In 2024, the first three campers turned up on New Year’s Day – ahead of the state-owned retailer’s annual Burgundy release on 1 February. 

‘The first campers spent one month outside and it was a very cold period, with temperatures down to minus 20 [degrees Celsius],’ said Arnt Egil Nordlien, product manager for fine wine and auctions at Vinmonopolet.

A first come first served-style release system means those at the head of the queue have a chance of securing particularly rare Burgundy wines for their cellars.

These include fabled grand cru bottlings from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) and Domaine Armand Rousseau.

Burgundy wine fans camping tents Vinmonopolet

Tents outside the Aker Brygge store. Credit: Vinmonopolet / Sunniva Agnete Trøen.

Board games, snacks and camping chairs had been set up inside the main tent outside Vinmonopolet’s store in Oslo’s Aker Brygge neighbourhood, according to Norway’s E24 business newspaper.

It visited the campers in January and reported that seven people were already in this year’s Burgundy wine queue.

On the day before the release, 56 people spent the night in-front of the retailer’s largest shop, Nordlien told Decanter

By opening time at 10am on 1 February, there were up to 200 people waiting in-line at the store.

‘There were people sleeping outside all of our 12 shops, except the one in Bodø, where the weather was so cold and windy the police refused to let anyone stay outside,’ added Nordlien.

All of the top Burgundy releases have now sold out for this year.

Several of Burgundy’s best-known producers featured on the list of releases. Among them, three bottles of DRC’s Romanée-Conti Grand Cru 2020 were offered at a retail price of 80,000 Krone per bottle (£6,100).

For some of those waiting patiently outside, the winter camping experience has been developing as an annual ritual. 

Wine lover Henrik Malme was spending his second January outside the store in Aker Brygge, having arrived straight from a New Year’s Eve party, E24 reported.

On Instagram, Malme recently offered thanks for the good company and visitors. 

As previously reported by Decanter, there is understood to be an honesty policy regarding queue numbers, to allow for bathroom and restaurant breaks.

Founded in 1922, Vinmonopolet has exclusive rights in Norway on selling wines, spirits, beers and other drinks with an alcohol content above 4.75% abv.

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