In the secrets of the Hospices de Beaune

Inspiration

BurgundyFood and WineCultural Heritage

Les célèbres toits colorés des Hospices de Beaune, en Bourgogne.
© Meinzahn/Getty Images - Les célèbres toits colorés des Hospices de Beaune, en Bourgogne.

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 5 April 2024, updated on 16 April 2024

Every year for nearly 155 years, wine professionals and enthusiasts have gathered at one of the most important events in the Burgundy wine world: the Hospices de Beaune wine auction. Here are 6 things to know about this little jewel in the middle of the vineyards.

The Hospices de Beaune, over five centuries of history

It is in a former hospital that the auctions of the greatest vintages of the Côtes de Beaune AOC have been held for nearly 155 years. This building is steeped in history, having been built in 1443. Created by the Duke of Burgundy's chancellor, Nicolas Rollin, this establishment was intended to house the most destitute. The originality of this place lies in the fact that it had a vineyard at its opening.

A prestigious vineyard

The wines sold at the auction on the third Sunday in November come from the prestigious Hospices de Beaune wine estate, which has been built up since the 15th century through donations. Today, the estate covers some 60 hectares and consists mainly of Premiers and Grands Crus, located around Beaune but also in the Côte de Nuits and the Maconnais.

Raising money for a good cause

The funds raised will be donated to charity. The aim is to contribute to the improvement of care facilities and to modernise the infrastructure. The profits from the auction also help to preserve historical monuments, such as the Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune. Since 1945, the Hospices have supported charities each year by selling a barrel of wine called the "pièce des Présidents".

12.3 million in revenue in 2019

The 159th Hospices de Beaune auction was held in November 2019. It totalled 12.3 million in revenue. This sum was slightly lower than in 2018, which can be explained by a drop in the volumes put up for sale. The "pièce des Présidents", a Corton Grand cru les Bressandes, was sold for 260 000 euros. The money was raised for two associations: the Brain and Spinal Cord Institute and the association Autour de Williams, which supports research into Williams syndrome, a genetic disease.

Record editions

In 2018, an all-time sales record was set with €14.2 million raised. In 2017, the Hospices de Beaune had already brought in over 13.5 million euros. And in 2019, the average price per coin was set at a record 21,823 euros. In 2010, the 500-litre President's coin sold for the highest price of €400,000. In 2012, the 350-litre President's piece was sold for €270,000.

The sisters, long pillars of the Hospices de Beaune

The sisters ran the Hospices de Beaune for almost two decades. During the war, they played a crucial role in the organisation of this place. They were nurses, surgeons but also cooks and apothecaries.

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