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Tough harvest hits Hospices de Beaune 2013 auction

This year's Hospices de Beaune auction will be the smallest for three decades, following a Burgundy 2013 harvest dogged by poor weather earlier in the year.

(French actress Clotilde Courau, Princesse de Savoie, will be this year’s guest president)

Just 443 barrels, including 333 of red and 110 of white, will go under the hammer at the 153rd annual sale on 17 November, making it the smallest since 1981, when 419 barrels were auctioned. There were 518 barrels last year and 761 in 2011.

Estelle Bidault, spokesperson for Hospices de Beaune, stressed that barrel numbers are not always the main factor for sales. Last year’s total of nearly EUR6m was the highest since 2000, and EUR0.5m euros more than in 2011, even though the 2011 auction featured almost 250 more barrels than in 2012.

As previously reported in decanter.com, devastating hail damage in July destroyed many Cote de Beaune vineyards, while a sunless spring hampered flowering and delayed the growing season.

Bidault told decanter.com that the 60 hectares of vines belonging Domaine Hospices de Beaune are ‘well spread out and not all were damaged’ by hail.

But, she said 2013 marks the ‘the most meticulous selection ever’ of grapes for the auction, which is hosted by Christie’s France.

Domaine manager Roland Masse said the quality of the whites – ‘with fine ripeness and aromatic freshness due to natural acidity’ – is more ‘homogenous’ than that of the reds, which were more affected by hail.

French actress Clotilde Courau will be guest president of this year’s auction, following France’s former first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, in 2012. Courau is also Princesse de Savoie thanks to her husband Emanuele Filiberto, a member of the House of Savoy in eastern France.

A 456-litre Meursault Genevrieres Premier Cru, Cuvee Philippe Le Bon is this year’s ‘President’s barrel’. Proceeds from this barrel will benefit the Petits Princes and Les Papillons Blancs charities.

Written by Panos Kakaviatos

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