Sales of still-in-barrel Burgundy 2019 wines at this year’s Hospices de Beaune auction reached nearly €12.3 million, excluding the buyer’s premium.
That total rose to €13.1m after adding fees and proceeds from the traditional charity barrel, the Piéce des Présidents. Auctioneer Christie’s said it was the second highest total on record, behind the 2018 event.
Strong prices reflected optimism around Burgundy’s 2019 vintage, described by some tasters at this early stage as more consistent than the already-hyped 2018 crop.
The average barrel price rose by almost 30% versus last year, to €21,823.
Harvest yields were down in 2019 in some areas and total auction sales would ‘easily’ have beaten last year’s record if volumes had been the same, a spokeswoman for the Burgundy Wine Council told Decanter.com.
Hospices de Beaune 2019 included 471 barrels of red wine and 118 of white, versus 631 and 197 respectively in 2018.
For red wine barrels, the average price was €20,535, up by around 32% on last year, with white wine barrels sold on average for €26,964, up by around 27%.
The auction set a new sales record for a single barrel sold, excluding the flagship ‘President’s barrel’.
The Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru Cuvée Dames de Flandres went for €149,800 (£112,371, $148,987) to an American client bidding by telephone.
Streaming the auction online, another US-based bidder, Mont Stern, posted on Facebook that he ‘couldn’t believe how much higher everything went for this year’.
At a press conference the morning of the sale, veteran French wine critic Bernard Burtschy proclaimed that the wine samples of 2019 proved to be ‘the best tasting experience I have had since 40 years tasting Hospices de Beaune wines from barrel’.
One sore result concerned this year’s special charity lot, known as the President’s barrel or ‘Pièce des Présidents’. The 228 litre-barrel from the Corton Grand Cru Les Bressandes, sold for €260,000 – higher than last year but down on the €420,000 made in 2017.
Organisers were impressed with the auction in general. ‘I am very moved today to see these amazing results for this exceptional vintage,’ said Ludivine Griveau, winemaker and vineyard manager for Domaine des Hospices de Beaune.
The 123 buyers represented 20 countries. Non-French buyers constituted 20% of sales by value, while 22 buyers were based in Asia.
Maison Albert Bichot bought 122 barrels, including 82 red and 40 white, for €2.79m.
Editing by Chris Mercer.