This year’s sale, which took place on 13th December, culminated in hammer prices totalling €13,438,700 (£12,169,280 / $13,438,700), despite a slight drop (0.67%) in the average price per barrel from 2019.
A total of 630 barrels were on offer this year, one less than the entire red wine collection in 2018, comprising 50 different cuvées, 33 red and 17 white. The total number of red wine barrels was 474, compared to 471 last year and there were 156 white wine barrels compared to 118 last year.
The auction had been delayed from its traditional date of the third Sunday in November, due to Covid-19 confinement regulations.
Though restrictions continue in France, François Poher, Director and Chairman of the Board of the Hospices Civils de Beaune made it clear at the press conference that the sale needed to go on. He said; ‘This year marks the 160th Hospices de Beaune sale. The auction does not just symbolise our rich heritage, but the most needed proceeds will greatly benefit our local hospital and those affected by Covid-19 within our community.’
There was palpable excitement in the sale room for this precocious vintage, despite the restricted attendance.
Estate manager and Hospices de Beaune winemaker Ludivine Griveau earlier explained, ‘It was the first vintage to ever be completely harvested within the month of August. With the benefit of seven harvest teams, each parcel was picked at its optimum ripeness. Fermentation went smoothly and the wines show lots of freshness and density with balanced alcohol levels.’
In addition to the overall sale’s success, new records were achieved for nine cuvées.
However, the most exciting moment of the night was the sale of the special charity lot, the Pièce du Président or the ‘Presidents’ barrel’. The grapes for this year’s lot came from the Grand Cru of Clos de la Roche (and specifically the ‘Les Froichots’ climat), with ageing taking place in a special 228-litre barrel with oak chosen from the Loire Valley’s famous Chambord forest (pictured top).
For 30 minutes, dramatic bidding was carried out between the salesroom and a telephone bidder before reaching an incredible – and record-breaking €660,000 (£597,656 / $802,270) hammer price.
Additional contributions from two other bidders added €120,000 (£108,664 / $145,867) for a total of €780,000 (£706,321 / $948,137) for the charity. This far exceeds the previous record of €480,000 (£434,659 / $583,469) obtained in 2015 for a barrel of Corton Renardes Grand Cru.
Many were enthralled by the results. Jasper Morris, Master of Wine and Senior Consultant for the Hospices said; ‘A thrilling result tonight, which pays tribute to the resilience of the world of wine in the face of the pandemic.
‘The complicated sale arrangements speaks volumes for the négociants and the private customers that came together in support of the Hospices de Beaune. Clearly there remains huge demand for the wines of Burgundy.’