The annual Hospices de Beaune wine auction, held on November 21, 2010, was auspicious on two counts: It was the 150th anniversary of the event and it took place in the same week that UNESCO inscribed “the gastronomic meal of the French” in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity—a record of significant global traditions.
The auction—organized by the Burgundy Wine Board, the Hospices Civils de Beaune and Christie’s—trumped last year’s earnings, raising more than 5 million euros for charities, including AVEC, a French cancer charity, and the French Red Cross. The record-breaking barrel sold—a 500-liter Beaune Premier Cru Cuvée Nicolas Rolin—went for 400,000 euros.
But despite all the auction action, much of the excitement about the event centered on the honor UNESCO bestowed on the French culinary tradition, and the lunches and dinners in restaurants and chateaus of the town and the vineyard-covered countryside leading up to Sunday’s climatic event in the Halles de Beaune. Every meal of the weekend strived to reflect the UNESCO definition of “the gastronomic meal of the French,” which “emphasizes togetherness, the pleasure of taste and the balance between human beings and the products of nature.” Dishes were carefully selected from a growing repertoire of recipes, local products were used, food was meticulously paired with wine and table settings were exquisite.
The auction and surrounding events were open to the public, and wine lovers poured in from across the region and around the world to celebrate the joys of Burgundy wine. Reservations at restaurants like Le Cheval Noir and Saturday night’s famous Chapter Dinner at Château du Clos de Vougeot were booked well in advance. The Château de Beaune, home of Bouchard Père & Fils, opened its cellars and tasting room for tours, and a series of private dinners and lunches took place for wine merchants, press and high-end collectors.
WE spent time with winemakers and chefs at the various events and collected some recipes that promise to bring this French gastronomic celebration home. To read about the chefs and try their delicious recipes, click here.