an open day – château moulin à vent

By billn on June 14, 2021 #events

Chateau moulin a vent open day 2021

New in my inbox today.

I guess that this is the covid-successor to the last few years’ Jazz à Moulin à Vent – also held at the château. I can’t make it as I have a new kitten to collect that day(!) but feel free to head along yourself!

See Here.

Baghera & Bouchard’s La Romanée – the results…

By billn on April 19, 2021 #events

Well, actually more the highlights:

The sale, as usual for this auction house, was in Geneva but because of covid restrictions in Switzerland there was a live stream available for following the bidding but no bidders or spectators were allowed in the room. The staff of the auction house (Baghera) were in telephone contact with bidders in London, Paris, Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore – but I recollect no mention of a location in North America – though online bidders eventually accounted for 52% of the sales. A successful bidder on many lots was Ma Cuisine in Singapore. These were only bidders referred to by name rather than their paddle number – though whether they were buying for their restaurant, or other buyers, or a blend of the two, is only conjecture.

It all started in a rather steady fashion – the wines barely creeping up to mid-estimates – though to be fair, the estimates were not so low! From another perspective, the wines of the first few hundred lots were no more expensive than most of those sold at the René Engel auction two years ago by the same auction house. Perhaps it was the lack of participants in the room or many bottles of modest vintages – such as 1987/86/84 etcetera – but we were well into the auction before pre-sale estimates were finally ripped up and thrown out of the window.

The 1985s kindled much more interest but the fire really started with the wines of the 1980 vintage – I can only assume based on the positive recent article about the vintage by William Kelly in the Wine Advocate – but then bidding became even more impressive for the 1978s.

The sale was now clearly underway.

1906 La Romanée
Image courtesy Baghera

Wines from 1906 did very well – 6 bottles taking a hammer price of 185,000 francs – but the real fireworks were reserved for the wines of the 1865 and 1862 vintages. The better-known of the two is 1865 and it showed in the bidding; the first bottle sold for 165,000 Swiss francs, the buyer accepting the option of also taking the next 4 bottles at the same price per bottle – plus, not forgetting, the 22% buyer’s commission! This was the highest per bottle price of the auction; three subsequent lots of 6 bottles and then a case of 12 1865s – what a cellar chez Bouchard Père et Fils! – all receding a little in terms of the average bottle price, though that last case of 12 was the highest single bid of the auction – 1.6 million Swiss francs the hammer price or 1.952 million with the commission – or, if you prefer, 2.133 million US dollars.

The prices of the 1862s were, by comparison, modest – only 55-60,000 Swiss francs per bottle! 332 lots were offered and 332 lots were sold for a bid total of around 9.6 million francs. I assume Baghera and Bouchard Père et Fils will be very happy with the day and the results.

The swiss sale of La Romanée back to the 1862 vintage…

By billn on April 16, 2021 #events

For the safety of their international customers, Baghera/wines has chosen to organise a dynamic online sale, auctioning the 332 lots in live-streaming from “Club 1865 by Baghera” and on the Baghera/wines website.

la romanee memories
Image and video from Baghera

I’d planned to attend Sunday’s auction but there you go – it won’t be possible – one day later and such gatherings would be allowed in Switzerland. I note that you had to register your details at least 72 hours ahead of time if you want to bid online – it seems that’s already too late for you now, if not already done.

It’s still possible to follow the sale, live online if you are interested though. Maybe I may glance at my laptop whilst otherwise watching Max Verstappen and Louis Hamilton and co on Sunday – as I won’t now be going to Geneva…

La Romanée – how about a ’62? – it’s just a question of which century…

By billn on February 25, 2021 #events#the market

la romanee memories
Images from Baghera

Remember this? Well, the catalogue is now available – you can bid online, or just electronically thumb the pdf…

baghera-la-romanee-1862We can quibble about pricing – and who’s to say the catalogue doesn’t underestimate the hammer prices? Particularly when you consider a sought after vintage of the wine from today’s maker – Louis-Michel Liger-Belair will easily approach US$10,000 for a single bottle. With that in mind the prices, considering both age and provenance, are damn-near respectable.

I considered maybe a birth-year wine? but I forgot that Bouchard didn’t have the contract in the 1960s – I’ve seen 1962 La Romanée from Camille Giroud though! So what about adding a century? Okay I know what hair I have is greying, but it’s not that grey!

2020 Hospices de Beaune – no-sale…

By billn on November 15, 2020 #events


I spotted the news late on Saturday – far too late for posting about here – a Sunday-morning tweet having to suffice. As you can see from the photo above, on a Sunday night that is usually packed with revellers, the only thing moving in Beaune tonight, was the Christmas lights.

I’ve seen in various local press-outlets that the organisers have been getting a lot of flack over their insistence that the Hospices de Beaune sale would go ahead – and then finally giving in to the inevitable and cancelling at the last moment. On the other hand, I admired their bloodymindedness – that they were trying to keep a charitable event going – and one that is extremely important to the businesses in, and around, Beaune too.

They are planning to find another date as soon as possible, is the current message, but for those buyers who normally (directly) decant the wine into older barrels, trying to lessen the impact of all the new oak – well, it won’t be the same this year – will it(?)!

Loathed as I am to criticise, in the end, like so much of the auction-business in 2020, they should have found a mechanism that preserved as much as possible of what makes this sale so special – but done online. Not just safety for all but a certain measure of security too – having not done so – now what?

Well, in the first instance, somebody’s going to have to pack-up the saleroom – for now, anyway!

speedy but not silly…

By billn on October 15, 2020 #events

Marathon International du Beaujolais 2020

I’m in good shape. This year the injuries have been nothing serious – but:

The Chablis marathon/half-marathon has been cancelled, as has the Beaujolais marathon/half-marathon. The latter of these surely wins the prize for the best original artwork – see above!

That does leave the possibility of the Beaune semi-marathon to test myself; currently shrunk from 5,000 potential runners to a maximum of 1,500. In the end, however, great shape or not – and I’m thinking 1:27-1:29 – I just can’t face being at the start-line shoulder-to-shoulder with 1,500 others – whether I’m wearing a mask, or not. And that’s going to be a big mess to clean up when 1,500 people throw their masks to the ground as they pass the startline…

So, for this year, I’ll stick to the roads, trails and vineyards – alone – I’m anyway anticipating the late cancellation of Beaune too – the infection-rate-growth is something to behold in France right now, as practically everywhere…

the covid-compatible stormclouds over Burgundy…

By billn on September 24, 2020 #diary dates#events

The storm clouds gather. Beaune yesterday
The storm clouds gather: Beaune yesterday…

It’s already a couple of weeks since we lost the 2021 St.Vincent, planned for Puligny-Montrachet, Blagny and Corpeau.

In our new reality it seems to be mainly the larger, event-style, tastings that are currently being cancelled. One major maison has cancelled it’s usual sit-down/tutored new vintage tasting and another, even larger event will not now take place – the Roi Chambertin. For the former, I have already been able to arrange a private visit but the Roi will be a loss to my calendar – it will also be an opportunity too.

An opportunity? Well, yes.

I wouldn’t have joined the tasting this year if they’d stuck to the usual format – over 120 bottles (in duplicate) in a cellar with over 100 tasters – in covid-time, no thanks. The opportunity for me will be to visit more Gevrey domaines in person – something that in recent years I had relatively restricted to domaines who didn’t show their wines at the Roi.

Of-course there are a few sought-after domaines that are also suggesting that tastings of their 2019s may be possible in Q1 next year but not in 2020 – or even not at all. Let’s see how that pans out too – there are always more domaines available than are possible to visit in the time available but some ‘losses’ seem inevitable this year, though for the moment I see only a modestly diminishing availability for my usual tastings.

There are other big events that are affected too: The wine auction of the Hospices de Beaune will have a much smaller tasting schedule – the buyers have to be included, of-course, but there will certainly be fewer spaces for journalists and other interested parties – including in the sale itself where they are planning alternate seating – occupied and not occupied. Outside of the sale-room, Beaune’s half-marathon (the same weekend) is currently still planned to happen, but with 3,000 participants versus the usual limit of 5,000. Then 2 days later there is the Paulée de Meursault; normally a gathering of over 700 souls in a place more comfortable for about 400! This year they plan just 250 places. Masks are mandatory for those serving their wines to the occupants of other tables – but if I know the people celebrating this event, maybe that detail will be forgotten after – hmm – maybe 15 minutes(?)

Nobody said that it would be easy, and of course, there are places that are much worse off. Indeed some of these truncated events may also be cancelled at short notice. Luckily for the region, what they are potentially losing in not getting their message out has been partially compensated for in 2020, mainly by the Brits – who are drinking more than ever of their stuff. Apparently they bought early and extra to get them through brexit, but given covid, they drank all that, so now need to replenish early 🙂

records are made to be broken!

By billn on November 17, 2019 #events#the market

It was roughly 19h45 when I quit the salesroom of the 159th Hospices de Beaune wine auction – the sale didn’t actually finish until about 21h15 as there remained the small matter of almost 100 more lots to get through, but the writing was on the wall – records are made to be broken.

As a starting point, there was less wine for sale in 2019 versus 2018 – this was simply a question of the lower 2019 yields – 589 barrels of 2019 going under the hammer, down from 828 in 2018, including 118 barrels of white wine and 471 of red. A lower volume, but the early word on the quality of the 2019 vintage was positive, however, tasting was complicated. Those who tasted earlier in the week loved the wines, but those who tasted from Thursday onwards, when the weather turned much colder, were met with tight, often dissociated wines – would that change the minds of potential purchasers?

It seemed not.

The dynamics of the sale are interesting to watch – the major buyers often starting the bidding, but with much discipline, rarely offering even €100 more for a barrel when outbid. Except for poor old Frederic Drouhin, where discipline goes out of the window for certain lots; Drouhin traditionally buy all of the Beaune 1er Cuvée Maurice Drouhin – though plenty in the room still bid against him – so his barrel prices slowly crept up to over €11,000 for a barrel – probably it’s a game!

And the barrel prices? The first wine in the sale is traditionally the Beaune 1er Dames Hospitalières and it really strated the ball rolling in strong fashion – €13,000 a barrel. Outside of ‘show lots’ – such as the President’s Barrel of Corton for €260,000! – the prices were still often double the 2019 bulk prices. Despite the low volumes, reds were selling for nearly 8 percent more than in 2018 and the whites going for a ripping 18 percent more (with 100 lots still to go). So with the volume down by nearly 30%, I didn’t really expect the total from last year to be challenged – but it was looking closer than I expected. Prices have, on the whole, risen every year since 2016, though many 2019 prices still lag behind the exuberance of 2015.

I asked one of the most important purchasers (volume-wise) of the sale, Alberic Bichot, if he was happy with the prices tonight, to which he answered, “I’m very happy for the hospital!

And the weekend itself? The usual fare, an untold number of defenceless garlics were killed, merely to sit on plates with snails…

Burgundy Report

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