Every year, wine connoisseurs, wine makers, and wine appreciators mark their calendars for the third Sunday in November, when the famous Burgundy wine charity auction “Vente des Hospices de Beaune” unfurls in the iconic city of Beaune.
It’s just one of many good reasons to spend a festive weekend in Burgundy.
The Hospices de Beaune Charity Wine Auction weekend is the highlight of the Burgundy year and one of the premier annual traditions of the wine industry.
Saturday is La Fête in Beaune with a street market, tasting at wine houses, and an invitation-only, black-tie dinner at Chateau de Clos du Vougeot, one of the oldest and most prestigious wine estates in the world, and home to the world-famous Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin.
Sunday afternoon is set for the actual wine auction, organized by Sotheby’s in the market hall of the Halles de Beaune. The Hospices sells wines “en primeur” from the recent harvest that have only been in the barrel for a matter of weeks. The auction frequently raises more than €5 million, and proceeds from the sales are used to fund Beaune’s General Hospital and support the ongoing preservation of the Hospices building, now classified as a national monument.
The weekend concludes with an invitation-only lunch in Meursault. It’s called “La Paulée” and each guest is supposed to go with his or her own bottles of wine, a typical Burgundy tradition.
The festive weekend also includes street shows, a gastronomic village and even a half-marathon through the streets and vineyards of Beaune, something not to be missed whether you’re a runner or not.
All along the Burgundy wine road, famous villages such as Pommard, Aloxe Corton, Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, Vougeot welcome tourists. Cellars open their doors to visitors, gala dinners are organised by major wine houses, exceptional wine tasting are proposed by great wine makers, and a lot more.
Check the town website for a comprehensive list of events .
Over the last 500 years, Beaune hospital inherited or received the donation of many vineyards and today it owns 60 hectares (150 acres) that produce different kinds of Burgundy wine. The proceeds of the sale help finance the hospital. Today a modern hospital has been built in Beaune’s outskirts but the ancient one still proudly stands in the city centre. It’s been turned into a museum and is an absolute must-see.
The Auction itself dates from 1859.
This late medieval building has an amazing colourful tile roof, a huge dormitory, a spectacular paneled pharmacy, and typical kitchens not to mention the precious collection of religious art.
Beaune is a charming town on any weekend, full of restaurants, antique shops and art galleries, and wine shops on ancient cobbled streets.
During the auction weekend, visitors will find events during the week of the auction including tasting rooms and vineyards all around town, pouring sample vintages, old and new.
BeSeeingYou In: Beaune
Good to know: Burgundy has been producing some of the world’s finest wines for centuries
WOW! Factor: So legendary is the weekend that its three main events are known as “Les Trois Glorieuses” or “The Three Glories.”
Tip: For a different perspective of the region, cycle the Route des Grands Cru
Author bio: Annick Dournes
Photos ©Frederic de Poligny