Record results for Hospices de Nuits 2021 auction

(Article by Robin Kick MW – Decanter Magazine)

The 60th Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges wine auction surpassed estimates and set several new records when it took place yesterday, Sunday 14th March 2021.

The Hospices de Nuits 2021 sale took place yesterday afternoon in the historical Château du Clos de Vougeot, marking its 60th anniversary.

It has been described by organisers as ‘an absolute record year’ bringing in €1,923,000 (£1,652,017 / $2,294,434) from total sales, an increase of more than 19% in comparison to 2020’s auction, despite having nine fewer barrels to sell due to lower yields.

Despite the world’s current precarious situation, buyers were aplenty with bidder registrations up by more than 20% from last year, which was already a 50% increase from 2019.

New records

The auction saw two lots achieve record-breaking prices including €32,000 (£27,490 / $38,190) for one barrel of 1er Cru Les Saints-Georges Cuvée Georges Faiveley, and €49,380 (£42,436 / $58,917) for the charity pièce, a 228-litre special cuvée, comprised exclusively of the domaine’s 70-year-old vines from their 1er Cru Les Saints-Georges vineyard.

The auction’s 17 red wine cuvées raised €1,869,000 (£1,605,637 / $2,230,004), up 17.51% compared to 2020, while two barrels of the only white wine cuvée, Nuits-Saints-Georges 1er Cru Les Terres Blanches, Cuvée Pierre de Pême, raised an impressive €54,000 (£46,390 / $64,430), which was up 125% from 2020.

One of the top purchasers was Maison Bichot, who offer their clients the possibility of buying by the bottle, rather than by the barrel, the traditional format of the sale. But even managing director Albéric Bichot affirmed; ‘Some of these prices are just too high for our ‘buy-by-the- bottle’ programme. They are really for another type of collector’.

Vintage conditions

The 2020 vintage in Burgundy was the third in a row to experience hot and sunny weather but despite the challenging growing conditions, veteran winemaker and domaine director, Jean-Marc Moron, describes the 2020 wines as ‘concentrated but fresh, representative of their crus, similar to the 2019s…but some go a step further in terms of quality and in the charity cuvée, a new blend, we have a truly remarkable wine.’

Thibault Liger-Belair, a prominent producer in the region and longstanding supporter of the sale, commented that the auction really shifted when new auctioneer, Hugues Cortot from Cortot & Associés in Dijon, was brought in last year. ‘There is so much more energy now. Due to Covid restrictions this year, there were only around 50 people in the room, but it felt much more animated than that.’

Indeed, the effective yet entertaining ‘commissaire-priseur’ peppered much of the sale with light-hearted, jovial banter, such as teasing one bidder, ‘Monsieur, you do realise that if you would like to make it into the paper, you need to buy at least 10 barrels.’

Proceeds from the sale will benefit Nuits-Saint-Georges’ new local hospital, Saint Laurent, whilst the special charity cuvée will go to Institut Pasteur for Covid-19 variant research.

Reacting to the auction’s result, French author Erik Orsenna, ambassador of the Institut Pasteur said; ‘I am particularly delighted and honoured to be the sponsor of the 60th Hospices Nuits-Saint-Georges charity wine auction in aid of a flu research programme being developed at the Institut Pasteur.

‘The generosity displayed by the bidders in the raising of an incredible €49,380 makes so much sense because the work of Louis Pasteur, wine doctor, chemist and visionary, has so much to do with wine production. In the name of all those at the institute, I would like to thank you for your support; it’s by working together that we will take research further.’