The 60th anniversary of the Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges Wine Auction takes place this Sunday, March 14th, in the Burgundy region of France.
The event will take place at 2:30 p.m. within the grand cellar of Château du Clos de Vougeot, and will be streamed live. (Traditional candle lit sales will no longer take place, due to delays this caused in the past.)
‘The auction is strictly limited to 150 people this year, whereas usually between 300 and 350 attend,’ explained Aymeric de Clouet, a wine expert who organizes auctions in Burgundy. ‘Entrants must be registered to attend. Social distancing will be required, although in Clos de Vougeot, we have plenty of space.’
Sales from this auction last year totaled approximately $1.9 million (€1,614,500), a 10% increase from the year before, even though the number of barrels had decreased due to Covid-19 complications. Wine is mostly sold per pièce—or per 228-liter barrel. Last year one such pièce (Premier Cru ‘Les-Saint-Georges’—Domaine Georges Faiveley) sold for a record €24,000 (approximately $28,500, at today’s conversion rate). A total of 114 barrels are for auction—112 of red wine and two of white.
MORE FOR YOU
Auction proceeds are charitable. The auction is now linked to the new Saint Laurent Hospital, which was completed in 2018. However, the history of this hospital spans centuries. The hospices will also donate profits from one barrel of wine—Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Les Saint-Georges—to the Pasteur Institute. This year that particular wine is made not from the berries of both young and older vines, but exclusively from older vines of some 70 years.
(Another renowned Burgundy wine auction—Hospices de Beaune—takes place each November within the city of Beaune, less than an hour drive to the south. Both events have historical pedigree: the Beaune auction has taken place longer [since 1859] but both hospices—hospitals or quarters to tend the sick and impoverished—have operated for centuries. That of Nuits-Saint-Georges was founded in 1270, and that of Beaune in 1443.)
The almost 30-acre (12 hectare) Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges wine estate is part of the hospital, and has its own operating budget. It employs four vineyard workers full time and produces six ‘village’ appellation wines and nine Premier Crus.
‘The … estate and winery are physically linked to our hospital and, every day, they see the twin fruits of their work: the pieces of wine sold at auction and their new Saint Laurent Hospital,’ explained hospices director François Poher.
The event is gaining renown. Last year the number of buyers had increased some 50% since the previous year, and the average price per barrel increased 34% from 2019.
The auction generates local pride in a region salient throughout the world for producing quality vintages.
Overall, the 2020 vintage—which has been named the vintage of confirmation—is what is known as a grand millésime, according to Jean-Marc Moran, Technical Director for the Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges Estate. This means a great vintage—one where wines include complexity, notably rich aromas and well-structured and balanced tannins. According to Moran, the 2020 vintage is more structured than the 2019, and more balanced than the 2015 vintage.
‘The main difference with the 2020 vintage is its balance of acidity with alcohol,’ de Clouet added.
Earlier this month I tasted four wines that will be presented at auction. All wines are aged in new oak from three different barrel producers. Altogether, these Pinot Noirs are supple with low key tannins, an excellent acidity/alcohol balance and tastes of plush, rich fruit underlain at times with subtle minerality. This is a well-structured, velvety vintage that provides a rich, creamy mouth feel.
The 2020 Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Les Saint-Georges (Cuvée des Sires de Vergy) is outstanding: deep aromas of dark fruit, black pepper and a hint of morels. This is completely integrated in the mouth, oozing with rich flavors. This can age for 20 years without problem.
Nuits Saint Georges Premier Cru Les Vignerondes (Cuvée Bernarde Delasclache). 2020.
From the northern part of Nuits-Saint-Georges, these grapes from 50-year old vines come from a plot at the bottom of an incline that is underlain by deep soils. The wine has aromas of blackberries, mulberries, earth and leather. It opens up beautifully after two minutes in the glass and the taste includes supple dark fruit as well as fine acidity that balances on a knife edge with alcohol. A quietly elegant wine.
Nuits Saint Georges Premier Cru Les Murgers (Cuvée Guyard de Changey). 2020.
Includes somewhat mineral aromas with powerful deep, dark fruit and earth notes and a hint of pepper. A gorgeous mouth feel and a beautiful creamy finish in this lean and supple assembly of black fruit. This is a gorgeous, opulent and rich wine. Consider pairing with wild game such as deer. This wine will easily age, according to de Clouet, for 20 to 25 years.
Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Les Didiers (Cuvée Jacques Duret). 2020.
These grapes come from terrain located on the southern slopes of Nuits-Saint-Georges, just below Les Saint Georges and within a region known as the ‘golden quadrant’ for quality of fruit. Aromas are initially subtle, but fresh, well structured, opulent and rich. This gorgeously smooth assembly of tannins and balanced fruit is stellar, with a rich ribbon of acidity on the finish.
Source: Forbes – Business