The annual Hospices de Beaune charity auction will take place on 18 November in Beaune Burgundy. Hospices officials and the auctioneer, Christie's auction house, recently hosted a tasting event in Beijing as part of their Asia promotion tour.
The Hospices de Beaune auction is considered an important event in the wine trade, it offers critics a first opportunity to taste the new vintage in its embryonic form. Auction results are seen as indicator for the performance of Burgundy wines of the same vintage.
Chinese buyers have been active in Hospices de Beaune auctions in recent years. Last year’s "president barrel", normally the top lot in the auction and for which proceeds will go to chosen charities, was sold for €420,000 (USD 495,600) and was bought jointly by La Maison Albert Bichot and a Chinese collector.
Attended by Director of Hospices de Beaune Francois Poher, General Manager of Christie's Paris Edouard Boccon Gibod and Christie's Wine Consultant Jasper Morris MW, the Beijing pre-auction tasting was the eighth of such events.
In 2010, Hospices de Beaune and Christie's decided to include major Chinese cities in their promotion tours, taking tastings to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taipei, on top of European and American destinations.
The charity auction has been taken place annually since 1859, to be held on the third Sunday in November amid a three-day festival devoted to the food and wines of Burgundy called Les Trois Glorieuses.
The Domaine des Hospices de Beaune is a non-profit organisation which owns around 61 hectares (150 acres) of donated vineyard land, including some Grand and Premier Cru vineyards.
The auction has been organised by Christie's since 2005, prices attained are usually in excess of the current market prices. However, the results will still give indication on prices for the new vintage Burgundy wines.
(the writer can be contacted at: SLawMathews@thewinechronicle.com)