The Oldest Charity Wine Auction in the World


beaune.jpgIt’s the oldest, most famous charity wine sale in the world but also a great time to visit this famous wine region in France and enjoy Michelin-starred dining and beautiful sights in and around Beaune. Part of a three day festival devoted to the food and wines of Burgundy called Les
Trois Glorieuses or the three great feasts, the Hospices
de Beaune sale takes place on November 18, 2012,
or the third Sunday in November every year, writes
Reva K. Singh.

The Domaine des Hospices de Beaune is a non-profit organisation which owns around 61 hectares of donated vineyard land. A former charitable almshouse, the Hospice was founded in 1443 with the sole aim of caring for the sick and the destitute. Thanks to generous benefactors over the years, it has become one of Burgundy’s greatest wine estates with 85% of its vineyards First or Great Growths.
If you would like to participate in the auction, Christie’s, organisers of the auction since 2005, offers you several ways to make your bid. You can attend the auction in Beaune in person or bid via the phone, the internet or by leaving a written bid before the sale. To help you choose, Christies publishes detailed tasting notes on the wines on its website and can advise you on which cuvées to bid for, depending on your taste and budget. It also organises wine tastings in cities all over the world.
A barrel, called “pièce” in Burgundy, comprises approximately 288 bottles, or 24 cases of 12 bottles or 6 magnums. Get a group of like-minded wine lovers together and buy a barrel. Or organize the sale through your local wine club and share the wine.
After the sale, your wines will be tended by a Burgundy négociant-éleveur in whose cellars they mature until they’re bottled between 12 to 24 months after the auction. (The term négociant refers to a merchant who buys, bottles and sells wines from outside sources, while an éleveur is someone who ‘raises’ the wine, tasting and tending it, until ready for bottling.)
With bidding by professional and private buyers, the barrels, from 46 cuvées of white and red wine, sell at many price points, and there are often some great values. The auction, which is dominated by European buyers, has recently seen the arrival of a significant number of Asian bidders, who have in the past outspent those from the US.
The funds collected at the annual wine auction go towards supporting the Hospices’ charitable works as well as to maintaining its historic buildings and artistic treasures. It’s a wonderful opportunity to contribute to a humanitarian cause, while acquiring some of the finest wines in the world.
For more information on acquiring a barrel, contact Sanjay Menon, who has firsthand experience of the auction. (Email:; tel: 022-66669111)

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