This year’s Hospices de Beaune will take place on November 21, making a full comeback, presenting a total of 50 different cuvées of the historically low-yielding 2021 vintage including 33 reds and 17 whites.
Produced from vineyards across the Hospices’ 60-hectares of holdings, 349 barrels and five half barrels will be on offer, comprising 293 barrels and two half barrels of red wines; 56 barrels and 3 half barrels of white wines; and 7 barrels of spirits.
The Hospices Civils de Beaune was founded in 1443, at the end of the Hundred Years War, with the building of a hospital in the centre of the town. The Hôtel-Dieu, which remains one of the most magnificent Renaissance buildings in Europe, was a hospital and refuge for the next 600 years (the last patients left in the 1970s).
Over the years, many vineyards are donated to the organization. Till today, Domaine des Hospices de Beaune owns 60 ha of vineyard including a number of prized premier and grand cru sites.
The auction, which can include more than 500 lots, is the most famous and oldest charity wine auction in the world (established in 1859).
As per tradition, funds raised from the auction will be for investment in the medical equipment and modernisation of the hospital buildings managed by the Hospices Civils de Beaune.
The proceeds from the sale of one particular barrel, the Pièce de President, are donated to a specially nominated charity. This year, the funds from this special barrel will support two organisations that work tirelessly championing women’s causes: the National Federation Solidarity with Women represented by Jeanne Balibar, to help in their fight against violence towards women, and Institut Curie represented by Pio Marmaï, to benefit medical research against breast cancer.
The Pièce de President or president barrelwill be a barrel of Corton Renardes Grands Cru 2021. It is a unique cuvée aged in a barrel called “Fusion”. This barrel has been specially crafted by master tonnelier François Frères from a local Burgundian oak, taken from the nearby Forest of Cîteaux, using only wood of the very finest grain, selected with cutting-edge optical technology.
François Poher, Director and Chairman of the Board of Hospices Civils de Beaune, said: “Those of us who make up the Hospices de Beaune today are the happy custodians of a centuries-old tradition characterised by humanity, generosity, respect for others and for oneself, and for all those who put their trust in us. This is a huge privilege and one that demands the utmost care when considering how the funds raised from the auction will be used.”
2021 vintage quality
Being the most important event for Burgundian lovers and wine merchants, the auction is also a bellwether for each vintage’s quality and most importantly price.
Speaking about the 2021 vintage, Ludivine Griveau, winemaker of the Domaine des Hospices de Beaune, said: “This year’s vintage began under exceptional weather conditions towards the end of March, when abnormally high temperatures led to an explosion of growth on the vines. The challenges continued with the extreme frosts of early April over three successive nights, and the pressures of adhering to strict health protocols.”
“We overcame all these difficulties, and without the use of synthetic chemicals, thanks to the united efforts of our team of twenty-three winegrowers and our fortuitously located plots of land, whose vines are mainly located on hillsides, providing good access in the event of bad weather,” she continued.
“The 17 whites are already showing an incredible balance and promise a very strong aromatic future – they are powerful and, above all, precise, with notes including fennel, pear and peach. They have a density in the mouth and good levels of acidity. Our only regret is that we have been able to produce very little in terms of quantities.
“As for the reds, the challenge was to preserve the beautiful aromatic intensities at the start of the fermentation process. The result is pure red wines which are energetic and rich in fruit, with noble textures and very silky tannins. Our thirty-three cuvées each have their own identity, and overall, they are both subtle and racy.”
Speaking of the auction, Jamie Ritchie, Worldwide Head of Sotheby’s Wine, said: “Every third Sunday in November, the Hospices de Beaune auction presents a unique opportunity to secure these exceptional wines that are so carefully crafted by Ludivine Griveau and her team. Demand for Burgundy is at an all-time high and we anticipate strong demand for the 2021 vintage.”