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:
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.
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