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Louis-Fabrice - President's Barrel 2022

The 162nd Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction

Last Sunday, the sale of the 162nd edition of the Hospices de Beaune wine auction – the oldest charity wine auction – delivered a total of €31 million including all the auction fees.

The last two years’ sales, which were affected by covid-restrictions and covid-postponements, were but a memory on Sunday as 700 people packed into the sales room in Beaune. Not only was the room full but the telephones were buzzing too – Sotheby’s indicating interest from 30 different countries – interest that endured for the whole 7 hours of the sale.

I could tell you that it was only a modest 8% increase* in the price of a barrel versus last year – but in Hospices de Beaune-land that’s nearly another €3k per barrel – and 20 years ago €3k was the average cost of a barrel at the sale! Of course, this is a charity sale that benefits all the healthcare users in, and around, Beaune and Nuits St.Georges – and so it was a great result for the local hospitals and care homes. The headline amount of the sale was simply a massive record a) because it was a very healthy volume – almost as high as the 2018 ‘record’ volume – but with prices that have doubled since that particular sale.
*But more like 12% if we were to include the ‘star lot’ – the President’s barrel…

This sale included two new cuvées: Corton Grand Cru cuvée Les Renardes, with 13 barrels sold for a combined total of €700,756, and Beaune Blanc 1er cru Clos des Mouches Cuvée Hugues et Louis Bétault with 5 barrels sold for a combined total of €235,440.

If the general market was looking for some softening of burgundy wine pricing – here was not the place to look. The wine merchants of Beaune were caught between a rock and a hard place – of course, happy for the hospital but also asking themselves how they will sell-on the wine from barrels they bought for themselves. Five barrels of Bâtard-Montrachet Cuvée Dames des Flandres sold for €324,000 each, not only more than double the pre-sale high estimate but also a price level usually reserved for the special charity barrel of the auction. In a show of solidarity the wine merchants of Beaune came together to purchase this special barrel – the Pièce des Présidents:

Louis-Fabrice - President's Barrel 2022
Image courtesy of Maison Louis Latour

2022 Pièce des Présidents
The special charity barrel of the 2022 Hospices de Beaune wine sale was sold for €810,000.

This barrel was bought by Maison Louis Latour and Maison Joseph Drouhin, with the support of the FNEB – the Fédération des Négociants-Éleveurs de Grande Bourgogne. The Latour and Drouhin families came together to dedicate this barrel to the memory of Louis-Fabrice Latour who passed away in September. The two families agreed in advance that they would pay €700k for the barrel with the members of the FNEB electing to top up that amount to cover the higher hammer price. The sale proceeds for this barrel always go to charities independent of the local healthcare system, charities which change each year – in 2022 the proceeds will go to the Princesse Margot Charity and the Vision du Monde Charity.

Almost secondary to the spirit of this purchase is the barrel itself: a blend of three of the Domaine des Hospices de Beaune’s terroirs on Corton, including Renardes, Bressandes and Chaumes. The cooperage of Maison Louis Latour produced the barrel.

A few stats

The hammer total for the 162nd Hospices de Beaune wine sale was €29,788,500 including the Pièce des Présidents; €28,978,500 excluding the Pièce des Présidents. Vintage 21 and 22 totals (Sotheby’s) include the President’s barrel – the earlier years’ values (Christie’s) are stated without including the President’s barrel. All the figures are ‘net,’ so without the respective auctioneers’ commissions.

VintageSale Total € millionsPrice per barrelNumber of barrels
2005€3.79 million€4,803789
2009€4.99 million€6,250799
2015€11.3 million€18,880575
2016€8.4 million€13,833596
2017€13.5 million€16,657787
2018€13.95 million€16,850828
2019€12.28 million€21,823589
2020€12.76 million€21,677630
2021€11.68 million€33,223352
2022€29.79 million€35,974802
weekend 46 2022

the wines of weekend 46 – 2022

weekend 46 2022

2017 Verret, Bourgogne Côte d’Auxerre Les Gaudiers
Now that’s a really good one – fresh, mineral, and with plenty of pure citrus complexity – yes! In the mouth this has a little generosity but a lot of energy too – I like the direct line of this wine despite there still being plenty of creamy oak in the middle and finishing flavours – for my own taste a bit too much – but your mileage will vary. It’s still a very impressive wine!
Rebuy – Maybe

2011 Camille Giroud, Beaune 1er Aux Cras
Wow – what a cork! I could hardly extract it – it was like concrete – but (unsurprisingly!) less than 1mm of wine travelled up its length!
Here’s a nose that starts solid, a bit monolithic, and not much fun – air works wonders. If opening a second bottle (with a similar cork!) I’d definitely carafe. The wine is a fine middle-weight with super clarity of mainly red fruit and a little sizzle of minerality. After half an hour the nose has opened up well with a good blend of red fruit and flowers. It’s a very nice wine and there are still no overt signs of impending maturity – you can keep this, no problem. I never saw any pyrazines here when young, and still don’t. Yum!
Rebuy – Yes

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a few views from the last days…

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weekend 45 2022…

I missed telling you about a couple of nice ones at the weekend:

2017 Roland Lavantureux, Chablis Vauprin
Plenty of colour here but there’s not even a hint of anything oxidative. Broad and fresh with a little caramel padding – the oak is still visible in this one. In the mouth – who switched all the lights on?! – such energy and fine architectural shape – then there’s the delicious flavour. As a purist, I should discount this wine because, like the nose, it still has some barrel caramel in the flavours – but it’s just so damn delicious. And hey presto – the bottle was empty – how did that happen?
Rebuy – Yes

2008 Dubreuil-Fontaine, Corton Clos du Roi
I think this is the last bottle from a mixed case of 2008s that I bought at the domaine about 10-12 years ago.
Medium colour. What an elegant, nay, beautiful nose! So perfumed. In the mouth there’s some fat – I’d go as far as to say generosity – and beautifully perfumed flavour. Blind, I don’t think that I’d ever guess this the be a 2008 – bravo – finesse personified!
Rebuy – Yes

week 45 wines - 2022!

some midweekers – including just your average 1984!

week 45 wines - 2022!

Leftover boiled ham joint, diced and added to a fresh risotto – yes!

2018 François Gaunoux, Meursault Le Clos de Tavaux
Cork-sealed. A young colour with plenty of aromatic freshness. In the mouth, this is young – slightly structural – a good sign in this high volume vintage. Tatsy wine with fresh structure and just enough intensity. I think it will only get better if the cork plays along…
Rebuy – Yes

1984 Pierre Guillemot, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Serpentières
I tasted at the domaine on Tuesday, and when we had finished the range of 2021s, Vincent Guillemot pulled out a blind wine: Forward, in fact amazingly forward underbrush / sous-bois aromas, almost a cep-mushroom complexity to this but ultra-clean too – wow! If I’d been poured this wine blind in a restaurant and was told it was a 1970s La Tâche I’d have simply said thankyou! Vincent was making a point that the early commentary on 2021 was not that favourable – but only from people who had not tasted any wines! He didn’t tell me the vintage – I guessed that it was a wine from the mid-80s but not 85 as that vintage has a more obvious ripeness and ‘fat’ texture. I’d hardly ever tasted any decent 1984s so I guessed 1986! Not bad but still wrong. 1984 was a vintage with a lot of rot – but Vincent explained that his father had triaged this fruit to death – the result is in the bottle – bravo! When we parted he gave me the bottle to drink at home – he’d used a Coravin at the domaine. Back in Bern:
Very clean colour though obviously with a little browning at the rim. A nose that was exactly as on Tuesday – you could smell this before the nose was in the glass – so clean, so complex – so large-scaled! In the mouth it’s broad and obviously fresh but not in a sharp way – just a way that brings mouth-watering energy. Deeply flavoured wine – that even the domestic management enjoyed – and she doesn’t like ‘old wine!’
Timeless, brilliant wine from a long forgotten ‘poor’ vintage!

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1997 Bouchard Père, La Romanée

1997 La Romanée

1997 Bouchard Père, La Romanée
My last bottle, but what a way to go out!
Ooh – that’s a beautiful nose – reeling me in with complexity. Mouth-filling – an extravaganza of flavour that’s even more punchy than the nose. A bottle about 5 years ago was still showing some youth – this much less so – but the bones of fine structure remain as does its freshness and seemingly endless, ravishing, finish. Captivating is a word that could have been coined to describe this wine – its actual age and vintage seem immaterial – it is (was!) simply a great wine. Bravo!
Rebuy – No Chance

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It’s probably time to start working on a new one – eh?

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