The ‘Pièce des Présidents’ Charity Barrel of Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru Sells for €350,000 / 1,815. Proceeds to Benefit the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale (FRM) & the Initiative de Recherche pour une Longévité en Bonne Santé (IRLB).
BEAUNE, MONDAY 20 NOVEMBER 2023 - Yesterday’s sale of the 163rd Hospices de Beaune charity wine auction brought a total of €23,279,800 / .4 million (an aggregate total of €25.1m / .4m) - the second highest ever achieved for the annual auction established in 1859. By the time the hammer fell on the final lot, three auctioneers - Aurélie Vandevoorde, Aurélie Massou and Jeanne Calmont - had conducted the seven-hour sale in rotation, in front of a packed 700-strong audience in the Halle de Beaune. The sale attracted participants from 24 countries across Europe, Asia and the Americas.
The Charity Barrel, also known as the Pièce des Présidents (Presidents’ Barrel), sold for €350,000 / 1,815 to the owner of Château de Couches, a medieval fortress classified as a “Historic Monument” and known as “Margaret of Burgundy”. This year’s offering comprised a unique Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru, Cuvée Madeleine Collignon, produced from the magnificent Grand Cru parcel which was donated to the Hospices in 1976 by Jean Collignon and named in memory of his mother. French actor Thierry Lhermitte and doctor and television presenter Michel Cymes - representing this year’s charitable cause - took to the rostrum as co-auctioneers for the lot, alongside Sotheby’s Jeanne Calmont.
Proceeds from the sale of the charity barrel will be given to the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale (FRM) and the Initiative de Recherche pour une Longévité en Bonne Santé (IRLB) - two organisations chosen by Le Conseil de Surveillance des Hospices Civils de Beaune. Both are dedicated to research into improving life expectancy and maintaining good health, in line with the Hospices Civils de Beaune’s pledge earlier this year to support the issue of healthy ageing.
The barrel was distinguished not only by the wine within but also the material with which it was made: the wood of an oak tree used to restore the spire of Notre Dame in Paris. After the devastating fire in 2019, the d'Harcourt family donated 10 prestigious trees from the Vibraye forest, their privately owned forest in north-western France, for the restoration of the nave and spire of the cathedral. One of the 220-year-old trees selected measured 19 meters, in excess of the 15.5 meters needed for the current restoration, so Bernard d'Harcourt chose to donate the remaining volume of wood to the Hospices de Beaune, specifically for the Presidents’ Barrel (which was subsequently crafted in the heart of Burgundy by Tonnellerie Cadus).
The results were also led by three barrels of Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru, Cuvée Dames de Flandres, which sold for €350,000 / 1,815 each. The five barrels of Bâtard-Montrachet on offer brought an overall combined total 14% up on the equivalent number of barrels in last year’s sale - an exceptional result for this white Grand Cru cuvée.
Separate from the Presidents’ Barrel, funds raised from the sale will be used by the Hospices Civils de Beaune to finance major new structural projects in 2024. These include the construction of a new hospital building to replace the first building of the modern era which dates to 1971 (due to open in four years), the rebuilding of the hospital in Seurre, the renewal of hospital equipment with cutting edge technology, and a modernisation of the winery.
The sale featured 753 barrels housing 51 cuvées of the 2023 vintage (divided into 574 barrels of red wines and 179 barrels of white wines) produced from vineyards across the Hospices’ 60-hectare holdings, now in its third and final year of organic conversion. The average price per barrel of the red and white wines was €30,839.
This year’s event marked the Hospices de Beaune’s third time partnering with Sotheby’s to organise and host the auction, which represents the pinnacle of the calendar in Burgundy. Prior to the sale, tastings and dinners were held across the Americas, Asia and Europe, from Mexico City, Houston and Los Angeles to Hong Kong, Taipei and Singapore.
From 2024, the award-winning author, television host, editor, wine critic, judge and educator, Jeannie Cho Lee MW will become a consultant for the Hospices de Beaune wine sale, further to Jasper Morris MW stepping down after consulting on the sale since 2016. In 2008, Jeannie became the first Asian Master of Wine. She has published three award-winning books – Asian Palate, Mastering Wine, and The 100 Burgundy – and in 2021, in recognition of her contributions to the food and wine industry, she was honoured as a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (a Knight in the National Order of the Legion of Honour).
Full results available here.
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