On Tuesday I took 90 minutes out of my harvesting duties to check in on the joint press conference of the Hospices de Beaune and Sotheby’s.
You may recall that last year the 160th wine auction of the Hospices was cancelled at the very last moment. Those running the show has said for days that there was no concern about cancellation but there it was. The sale took place in even more restricted circumstances, later in December, the 13th. I privately heard that Christie’s were pretty unhappy about the whole thing as they had offered to guarantee that the whole thing took place with no issues but online. Perhaps it was a change in the dynamic of the relationship between Christie’s and the management of the Hospices because just 4 months later came the announcement of the tie-up with Sotheby’s. This is a 5-year contract.
That’s enough speculation from me, now for some of the interesting notes from this week’s press event:
Today, the 21st September 2021 is the ‘Auction Day minus 60!‘
For the 161st auction of the wines of the Hospices de Beaune, Sotheby’s have a new five-year contract following Hospices change from partnering with Christie’s.
Sotheby’s had $98 million in wine sales in 2020 and their first half of 2021 is trending higher – in the direction of 120 million for the year. This is also the year that Sotheby’s begin with french wine sales ie sales in France itself – they previously sold only in New York, London, Hong Kong and occasionally in Geneva – this press event is seemingly the announcement for that strategic move. A much more interesting statistic was that in 2014, Burgundy accounted for 26% of Sotheby’s wine sales – in 2020 this had increased to 50% by value!
And a few notes from Ludivine about the vintage 2021:
“The frost wasn’t the first real ‘act’ of the weather in 2021 – that was the heat at the end of March which brought 26-28°C in the vines. This was the cause of the early growth of the vines which exacerbated the effect of the frost at the start of April. This stopped any development of the vegetation for nearly 6 weeks. By the 19-20th of May we could properly see what buds had resisted the frost. The vintage condition waxed and waned between what was best for rot or what was best for oïdium! Fortunately, the flowering came in warm and dry conditions, almost too warm! Pouilly-Fuissé and Volnay-Santenots have been the first picked vineyards on the 17th… I’m destemming 100% – the skins can be fragile and oxidise fast so I’m using plenty of CO2 to protect the unfermented grapes and must. When to start the harvest is usually a compromise between, maturity, cleanliness and the weather – for a number of years these have been comfortable to very comfortable indicators – this year its clearly about the compromises! We are back to our roots!“