The annual Hopsices de Beaune auction of wine in barrel took place yesterday, 18 November, in the town of Beaune in the heart of Burgundy. The number of barrels under the hammer was down by about 10 per cent but overall prices for the burgundy wines was up 27 per cent, with reds up a massive 38 per cent on last year. How different from last year, when red wine prices were static and whites soared. Is this an indication of the price increases we can expect for burgundy more generally for the 2007s?
This year there were 607 barrels (469 red, 138 white) compared with 680 last year, mainly due to an attempt to be more selective in terms of quality. Some vineyard plots were sifted out and only one new one added: the Corton Clos du Roi, Cuvée Baronne du Baÿ. The majority of the wines in the sale are from Burgundy - this year there were 30 red cuvées and 12 whites.
The total sale value, including the spirits and the President's Barrel (and the 6 per cent buyer's premium), was 4,652,672 euros (£3,328,701 or $6,810,926). The President's Barrel, auctioned for charity, went for 65,000 Euros. This year the two charities to benefit are France ADOT (Federation of Associations for the donation of organs and blood) and ELA ( European Association against Leucodystrophy).
Anthony Hanson MW, International Consultant of Christie's for the sale, commented:
Strong bidding by a wide selection of buyers was sustained throughout the auction. This year we saw many new clients from Asia, Australia, America and Europe sending pre-sale orders and bidding by telephone and by internet (Christie's Live). Record prices were registered for Corton Vergennes, Clos de la Roche and Mazis-Chambertin.The seven barrels of the new Cuvée Corton Clos du Roi were bid up to record levels for a Corton at Hospices de Beaune: averaging €12,000 per barrel (without premium). Bidding was very strong, from good value wines up to the most rare and prestigious. Superb work in vineyards and vathouse has resulted in great quality at the Domaine des Hospices de Beaune in 2007. In addition, international demand for Burgundy wines is very strong. The production was down compared to 2006, adding a scarcity value to the new wines. These elements explain the big increase of 38% in the average price per barrel for the red wines. The beautiful quality has brought in many new enthusiasts, collectors and connoisseurs.
To get an idea of the atmosphere at the auction and the way it's run, see my eye-witness account of the 2006 auction.