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Burgundy by the Barrel: Hospices de Nuits-St.-Georges Raises Nearly $2.5 Million for Charity

Barrels of Burgundy were up for grabs. Encouraged by last year’s impressive sale, Burgundy’s Domaine des Hospices de Nuits-St.-Georges hosted its 63rd barrel auction March 10 using an online, live streaming format. The charity event raised nearly $2.5 million (€2,281,500) for the medical facility. The overall auction total declined by 36 percent compared with 2023, partially due to the lower volume—there were 10 fewer barrels up for sale this year. The total is still the third-best result in the history of the auction.

The Hospices Has Healed the Community Since 1270

The Hospices was founded in 1270 to care for lepers. Today it’s a modern health care facility that caters primarily to the elderly. It also owns a prime Burgundian wine estate with 31.4 acres around the town of Nuits-St.-Georges, made up of donated plots in the Nuits-St.-Georges villages, Nuits-St.-Georges premier cru and Gevrey-Chambertin villages appellations.

Since Hospices de Nuits-St.-Georges switched to a classic bidding format, the auction, while less widely known than the annual sale for Hospices de Beaune, has gained visibility and momentum. Participants are more diverse, with new interest from Asian bidders. Auction totals have increased 123 percent over four years. Last year, the auction attained a record $3.9 million.

[article-img-container][src=2024-04/ns_hospices-de-nuits-chateau-cellar-031124_1600.jpg] [credit= (Courtesy Hospices de Nuits-St.-Georges)] [alt= Barrels of Burgundy in the cellars of the Domaine de Hospices de Nuits-St.-Georges.][end: article-img-container]

Cuvées are sold by the barrel, equal to 288 bottles. Typically consumers put in their order via a négociant or other wine merchant, who buys the entire barrel. However, a private individual or group can buy the entire barrel themselves during the online auction and then connect with a merchant after their successful bid. The wines must be aged and bottled by a merchant in the designated Burgundy region of production in order to claim the appellation.

147 Barrels of Pinot Noir and Three Barrels of Chardonnay

This year’s sale at the Château du Clos de Vougeot featured 150 barrels from 19 different cuvées, with 147 barrels of Pinot Noir and three of Chardonnay. Jean-Marc Moron, technical manager at the Domaine des Hospices de Nuits-St.-Georges, said that 2023 is “a year that is exceptional in terms of identity, without comparison with its predecessors, which will delight both those in a hurry, and those who have the patience to wait until the wines reach their peak in 10 or 20 years’ time.”

The extraordinary climatic conditions for the 2023 vintage, including chaotic weather, caused stress for the winegrowers, but happily it was warm and dry at harvest, producing a healthy yield.

Special Wines Made from Special Vines Drew the Biggest Bids

The first person to donate vineyards to the Hospices was Hugues Perdrizet, who gave the organization two plots in 1688. Last year, the managers created a special cuvée named after him, and fittingly it’s produced from the oldest vines on the estate. “We’re going back to the history of the Hospices,” said Moron. Now in its second vintage, the cuvée is a special selection of the famous Les St.-Georges premier cru climat, which gave its name to the village St.-Georges. One barrel of the cuvée was for sale and fetched $65,500, up from $44,000 last year.

“We own two parcels very close to one another, with one-third very old vines and two-thirds vines that are 40 years old,” said Moron. “And from the 60-year-old vines, we make a selection of vines au pied, a separate harvest of about 400 vines, to produce a third cuvée, the Cuvée St.-Georges Hugues Perdrizet, which is a unique barrel, to mark the excellence of our terroir in the appellation.”

[article-img-container][src=2024-04/ns_hospices-de-nuits-031124_1600.jpg] [credit= (Courtesy Hospices de Nuits-St.-Georges)] [alt= Château de Vougeot in Burgundy’s Côtes de Nuits.][end: article-img-container]

Another recent invention, the Cuvée des Bienfaiteurs, was back for its third vintage, as the charity barrel. This year it sold for $74,655, its highest price yet. Every year, in keeping with the ethos of the Hospices, the proceeds from one barrel are given to a humanitarian or medical charity. This year the donation will go to Fondation Clément-Drevon, which provides financial support for young medical researchers’ training costs in Burgundy.

The wine is a unique blend of the estate’s nine premier cru terroirs, expressing the vintage as well as the subtle blend of old and very old vines, northern and southern crus, high and low hillsides. It’s sold differently than the other wines: by the bottle at a fixed price in advance by subscription. It will be aged for one year at the Hospices de Nuits-St.-Georges and then either handed over at next year’s auction or shipped.

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