White Wines Break Records at Hospices de Beaune

Results from the 146th Hospices de Beaune auction.

Whites up by a massive 63.61%. Reds up by just 1.08%. Those are the results from the 146th Hospices de Beaune auction, which took place in Beaune, Burgundy on November 18. The auction was organized to sell the 2006 wines from the estate of the Hospices de Beaune.

The highest rise in prices was for the most expensive wines. Grand and Premier Cru whites. Corton Charlemagne (up 142% in 2005) and Meursault Loppin (up 131% in 2005) were the beneficiaries of a spending spree for white wines which has puzzled commentators, not convinced by the superior quality of 2006 over 2005. Other stars included two barrels of Bâtard-Montrachet Cuvée de Flandres which were sold for $105,815 each ($352 a bottle).

Overall, the auction realized approximately the same amount as 2005: $6.49 million against $6.52 million in 2005. There were fewer lots—680 against 789 in 2005, the result of a smaller harvest.

 Hospice du Beaune

 Hospices du Beaune

While it remains one of the highlights of the Burgundian calendar, with dinners and tastings lasting for three days, the Hospices de Beaune auction is no longer seen as a marker for the quality of a vintage. It is, after all, a charity auction benefiting local hospitals, so prices are artificial.

Prices were further skewed this year by the possibility of direct bids from private individuals, the first to be organized by auction house Christie's. In the past only Burgundy négociants could buy on behalf of clients; the private individual bids pushed the prices up.

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