The 163rd Hospices de Beaune wine auction will be held on Sunday, November 19 2023, in the Halles de Beaune from 14h30. The sale is emblematic of the region and, in particular, of Beaune. The domaine of the Hôtel Dieu covers an enviable 60 hectares of vines, the result of 600 years of donations which have traversed the centuries under this ownership model.
Today was the first of a number of press events for the forthcoming sale, held in the Hotel Dieu itself. Here I offer you some of the vintage notes of Ludivine Griveau – given the geographic extent of her 120 parcels, her insight is first-class:
Vintage Comments by Ludivine Griveau:
“We worked through 12 days of heatwave in this harvest. The heterogeneity is impressive – some cuvées we are treating like those of a heatwave vintage – but others not – even from the same appellation. 12.6° is our starting point up to about 13.4° – all natural. You could even sometimes find rosé grapes but also shrivelled. Right now, I have the impression that I have multiple vintages in the cellar – it’s a difficult vintage to define at this early stage.
“This was the third year of our certification to organic viticulture. Not a conversion to understate with 60 hectares spread over a wide geography and 120 parcels! A year with 11 treatments – which is quite a lot – but only with contact products based on copper and or sulfur. Our treatments were roughly every 7 to 9 days. We plan to label the wines AB in the 2024 vintage.
“The winter was not so cold and it was rather dry – there was a deficit of rain. No frost. Spring was much wetter and cold for April with less sun than average. The summer had a number of storms and 11 July brought some hail – significantly for us in Meursault Les Genevrières. From the perspective of the vines, it was still a little too dry. The vine growth started quite heterogeneous including the flowering that followed too, despite quite good flowering conditions. The growth that followed was associated with a high pressure of maladies – oïdium and mildew – that’s why we had 11 treatments.
“Our harvesting started 6th September in the Mâconnais, finishing the last of our vines on the 19th (today!) in the Côte de Beaune including some St.Romain. Because of the heat, we started harvesting early in the morning and finished early too – we needed a refrigerated truck at the winery to ensure that we could work with cool grapes.
“It’s historically, still a very early vintage. We can say that it’s a vintage with plenty of fruit – this for the second consecutive year. Averagely clean – we did green harvesting in 9 of our 60 hectares – not something we’ve done for at least 15 years in the domaine. Triage was severe – in the vines and then again at the winery. We started harvesting with the chardonnay and it was the whites that got through the harvest-time heatwave the best. In both colours, we had beautiful fruit but also not-so-beautiful fruit – that’s why we had to be so selective. 50 hectares were harvested in just 9 days. The colours and polyphenols of the reds are extracting very easily, such that there are many parallels to 2022 and whilst we had a little more volume of grapes than in 2022 we will make less wine – that’s because of the severe selection and using no stems. Our volume of whites will also be slightly down due to hail in our Meursault Genevrières.
“The ancients used to say that if you have a year with a lot of verjus the year that follows will be generous: We had lots of verjus in 2022 and we clearly have a generous 2023 – but in 2023 there’s very little verjus!”
The Pièce de Charité:
The most prestigious barrel in the sale.
Ludivine confirms that they already know what wine will be in this specially crafted barrel – but they are not yet saying!
This year the barrel is the result of a partnership between the cooper Cadus – producers of 18-20,000 barrels per year – and the family suppliers of an oak from the Vibraye forest – a family that have owned and worked this particular forest since 1510 – almost as long as the Hospices has existed. Vibraye is situated between Le Mans and Orléans. The oaks from this place are being used in the restoration of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris where the requirement is for trees with 15.5 metres in length. One (special) tree had a length of 19.5m – it is the remaining portion of this roughly 220-year-old tree that has been used to make the barrel.