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The World’s Oldest Charity Wine Auction Is Poised for Its Biggest Year Yet

More than 800 barrels of Burgundy will hit the block at 2022's Hospices de Beaune.

hospices de beaune charity wine auction sotheby's Sotheby's / Micha Patault

The 2022 Hospices de Beaune wine auction, to be held on Sunday, November 20 in Beaune, will be one of the biggest in its 162-year history. The sale will offer 802 barrels of wine, both white and red, from all 51 cuvées of the Hospices de Beaune’s vineyard holdings across Burgundy. The proceeds from the auction, which benefit children’s charities, local hospitals, the upkeep of the Hotel Dieu Museum and the preservation of the Hospices’ 148 acres of vineyards, are also expected to be among the largest in history because of the excellent and abundant harvest this year. Said to be the oldest charity auction in the world, Hospices de Beaune is also among the most important wine events of the year.

Since last year the sale is organized by Sotheby’s, and in addition to waving a paddle in Beaune’s Great Hall, buyers can view the live stream at home and place bids online or via telephone. The event will be hosted by French television presenter Flavie Flament and actor Benoit Magimel. This year’s auction honors Louis-Fabrice Latour, the head of Burgundy house Maison Louis Latour, who passed away in September, via the Pièce de Présidents, a barrel of Corton Grand Cru. The sale of this special barrel benefits Vision du Monde, which aids vulnerable children around the world, and the Princesse Margot Association, which supports children with cancer and their families. The 2021 auction took in €12.6 million ($13 million), including €800,000 ($827,224) for the Pièce de Présidents, the highest ever paid for the special barrel.

hospices de beaune, burgundy, france
Hospices de Beaune Sotheby’s / Micha Patault

Amayès Aouli, Sotheby’s Wines head of auction sales for Continental Europe said, “For the 162nd edition…we turn a spotlight on the quality of the wines produced by Ludivine Griveau and her team and the wonderful 2022 vintage. Since her first vintage in 2015, Ludivine has transformed both the winemaking and viticulture of the Hospices de Beaune estate, achieving spectacular results. And now that the estate is undergoing organic certification, the sky is the limit in years to come.”

The Hospices de Beaune’s vineyard holdings are now in their second year of organic conversion—since 2017 they have been chemical and pesticide free. While there is only one Pièce de Présidents, many of the plots yield multiple barrels, offering more than one buyer the opportunity to “take home” a barrel of wine such as Beaune 1er Cru Cuvée Dames Hospitalières, Corton Grand Cru Les Renards or Mazis-Chambertin Cuvée Madeleine Collignon. In actuality, it will be some time before the wine is taken home. Once purchased, a barrel remains in the cellar of a négociant éleveur (wine producer) who will age the wine for 18 to 24 months before bottling. Each 228-liter barrel holds 304 bottles of wine, but buyers can work with Sotheby’s and the negociant to bottle in larger formats and personalize the label if desired.

Beaune’s Great Hall is opposite the ornately tiled Hospices de Beaune or Hotel-Dieu, which is a well-known Burgundy landmark. Built in 1443, today it is a museum and the center of the Hospices’ business and charitable activities. The auction is always held on the third Sunday of November, during a festival known as Les Trois Jours Glorieuses, or Three Glorious Days. On Saturday there is a street festival in Beaune as well as public and private tastings across the region. Saturday night the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin holds its monthly chapter dinner at Chateau de Clos du Vougeot; dinner is only for members and their guests, and this is the brotherhood’s most highly attended event of the year. Festivities conclude on Monday with the Paulée de Meursault, an invitation-only lunch at which local winemakers and collectors from around the world freely pour wine from their prized bottles into each other’s glasses.

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