Decanter article

The 152nd Hospices de Beaune auction yesterday resulted in its highest sale since 2000, raising nearly €6m, some half a million euros more than last year.

The total take of €5,909,276 (£4,738,075) was a considerable increase on the €5,402,333 raised in 2011, some of it attributed to the presence of model and singer Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, wife of the former president, who charmed bidders for the special President’s Lot, sold to benefit particular charities, resulting in its second best sale ever at €270,000 (£216,538).

Anthony Hanson MW, senior Christie’s consultant for the sale, said 2012 is of ‘superb quality’ – a view endorsed by critics such as Clive Coates MW – and this, ‘combined with the reduced quantity and the progression of demand for great Burgundy in many countries, not just Asia, contributed to this astonishing, record result.’

Star cuvees amongst the red wines included Clos de la Roche Cuvee Georges Kritter, which fetched €55,667 (94.2% more than 2011) and Mazis-Chambertin Cuvee Madeleine Collignon at €38,318 (57.7% over 2011).

All six barrels of a grand cru from the Côte de Nuits offered for the first time, the Echézeaux Cuvée Jean-Luc Bissey, sold for a €50,000 per barrel. The record sale was all the more impressive given that this year there were lowest amount of barrels under the hammer in 25 years – 516 lots were sold, compared to more than 700 last year.

This year’s President’s Lot – a 350 litre tonneau of Grand Cru Corton, Cuvée Charlotte Dumay – was bought by Ukrainian businessman Igor Iankovskyi.

Money raised will benefit the Fondation Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, which supports arts and education for disadvantaged children, and the Institut des Epilepsies de l’Enfant et l’Adolescent (Idée), which fights epilepsy in children and adolescents.

The money raised for the other lots goes to the various charities supported by the Hospices.

For as yet unknown reasons, actor Gerard Depardieu cancelled an announced appearance the night before the Sunday auction. But Bruni-Sarkozy and French football celebrity Guy Roux proved more than equal to the task.

She would personally deliver the barrel if a bid reached €200,000, Bruni said. ‘And if someone bids €250,000, my husband will do it,’ she added.

At a press conference before the sale, BIVB president Pierre Henri Gagey said that the sale would set the tone for prices in general for Burgundy and said that consumers should expect a ‘reasonable’ price increase given low quantities and high demand. ‘Hopefully the 2013 vintage will have a larger harvest,’ he added.

As expected, a strong showing was made by Asian buyers who bid on 12% of the lots by value, second place after European bidders and ahead of third place bidding from the United States, according to a Christie’s press release.

The percentage of lots actually bought by Asians fell by one percentage point this year, from 13% percent in 2011.

  • Monday 19 November 2012
  • by Panos Kakaviatos in Beaune