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Record sales at Hospices de Beaune as investors cash in on Burgundy

Published:  18 November, 2013

The 153rd Hospices de Beaune auction yesterday resulted in its highest sale since 2000, raising over €6.3m, nearly 400k euros more than last year.

The total take of €6,305,002 (£5,274,910) was a considerable increase on the €5,909,276 raised in 2012, driven by increasing demand for decreasing lots over the last three years: only 333 went under the hammer, compared to 516 last year and 700 in 2011. The average price per barrel was just over €13k - a 26.6% increase over last year's average, reports Panos Kakaviatos.

Experts who tasted the wines before the auction were "often surprised" by the quality, remarked Roland Masse, manager Domaine des Hospices de Beaune, who during a press conference before the sale explained that the Hospices had never worked as hard to sort out grapes because of weather difficulties leading up to and during the 2013 harvest.

Although Burgundy sales in the UK dropped by 3% in volume and by 5% in sales between the first eight months of 2013 compared to the first eight months of 2012, according to figures released at a press conference before the auction, auction results often reflect market trends, and the increased prices per barrel correspond to expectations of a general price increase of 25-30% on average for 2013 Burgundy, from regional to prestige appellations, commented Philippe Prost, director at negociant-producer Bouchard Pere & Fils.

Another trend has been "increasing interest" from Chinese buyers, said Michael Ganne of Christie's, underscored by the first ever purchase of the President's Lot - a 456-liter barrel of Meursault Genevrieres Premier Cru, Cuvée Philippe Le Bon - for €131,000 by Chinese tea plantation and jade mine owner Ms. Yan-Hong Cao.

Star cuvees included Clos de la Roche Cuvee Georges Kritter, which fetched €70,620 (€15,000 more than in 2012) and Batard Montrachet Dames des Flandres at €65,270 (almost €8,000 over 2012).

Most all bids surpassed estimates. For example 20 lots of Mazis Chambertin, Madeleine Collignon, estimated to sell between €20,000 and €30,000, sold for between just over €44 and nearly €59k.

"These fine results confirm the excellent work of the Hospices de Beaune team, who produced some exceptional wines in 2013, said Anthony Hanson MW, senior Christie's consultant for the sale.