Glowing reviews of the Burgundy 2015 vintage helped the annual Hospices de Beaune auction achieve a record €11.35m over the weekend, but the atmosphere was marked by sadness following the Paris terror attacks and both organisers and individuals pledged money to help victims.
The Hospices de Beaune 2015 auction yesterday (15 November) achieved sales of €11,347,609 (£8m), fees included, beating the previous record set last year by about 39%.
Early reports of a very promising 2015 vintage helped to generate enthusiasm among buyers.
But, there was a subdued atmosphere in the wake of Paris terror attacks less than 48 hours earlier, which had claimed 132 lives by the time the sale began.
Organisers had earlier decided to press ahead with the sale, which opened with a one minute of silence and then a sombre rendition of the French national anthem La Marseillaise.
A third of the proceeds from the top lot, the Piece des Presidents, will go to France’s national federation for victims of attacks and catastrophes, which is set to help support Paris victims, organisers announced.
And the American branch of the Chevaliers du Tastevin society said it would donate €40,000 euros to Paris victims and their families.
‘It was necessary to maintain the auction; it is our only way of fighting and continuing with life,’ said auction co-president Claire Chazal.
This year’s Hospices de Beaune auction included 458 barrels of red wine and 117 of white.
The 228-litre presidents’ barrel of Corton Renardes Grand Cru sold for a record €480,000 (£339,713) to an anonymous French philanthropist.
Compared to 2014, sales for the white wines increased by nearly 38% and sales for the reds by just over 39%.
Négociants acquired about 60% of the barrels and the rest from private buyers.
Auction bids came from Europe (76%), Asia (19%) and the United States (5%). The auction also set a record for the most expensive barrel ever sold, the Clos de la Roche Cuvee Cyrot-Chaudron for €117,700 (£83,300).
Proceeds from the sale of the presidents’ barrel were divided three-ways because of the terror attacks in Paris: two-thirds for the originally intended beneficiaries (cancer research institute Curie and the AVC Foundation, which researches strokes) and one-third to La Fédération nationale des victimes d’attentats et d’accidents collectifs.
Updated 24/11/2015: Figure given by American branch of Chevaliers du Tastevin is €40,000.
(Editing by Chris Mercer)