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Hospices: 2006 whites up 63%

This year’s Hospices de Beaune auction was marked by the spectacular prices achieved for white Burgundy.

However, although prices of the white wines were up 63% on last year, and the reds have also recorded a slight increase, some in Burgundy doubt whether this is a reflection of the quality of the wine.

A barrel of 2006 white Burgundy – roughly 300 bottles – fetched an average €11,150. A barrel of red went for an average €4,417 – up 1.1%.

Bernard Repolt, managing director of Beaune producers Remoissenet Pere et Fils, said that ‘although quality is very good, it is not 2005’, adding that he expected the 2005 wines to achieve higher value over the long term.

564 barrels of red and 116 of white were sold for a total of €5,054,744 at the annual charity auction in the ancient Burgundy town, held last weekend (18/19 November).

Although there were significantly fewer barrels for sale than last year – 680 as against 789 – the total sum raised was almost the same: last year’s total was €5.08m.

The mood in Burgundy is one of measured optimism. Many had feared that prices would not match those of the 2005 vintage, and the reds at the auction only recorded a modest increase in price of 1.1%.

It was, claims Repolt, ‘a good year for Burgundy. We were hoping for something stable, and we got it.’

Anthony Hanson MW of Christie’s, which took over the running of the event last year, claimed that the success of the white wines rested upon the fact that 2006 was ‘an exceptional vintage’, and described a day of intense bidding.

‘Fierce battles took place in the salesroom; there was enthusiastic bidding by traditional buyers in the sale and private clients from all over the world both in the packed saleroom and by telephone.’

Buyers came from around the world for the event, including the United States, Britain, Hong Kong, and Mexico. Among the highlights of the auction were two barrels of Bâtard-Montrachet, Cuvée de Flandres, which sold for €82,404 apiece, and the ‘Special President’s Barrel’, benefiting two charitable organisations, which sold for a record €200,000.

Written by Alex Christie-Miller

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