Close Menu

Hospices de Nuits: ‘exceptional’ vintage as reputation rises, but damp market affects results

The Hospices de Nuits  wine auction, which was held at the  Clos de Vougeot on Sunday (10 March), demonstrated the rising reputation of the sale and an exceptional vintage. However the overall results showed that the market has definitely cooled, Arabella Mileham reports. 

For the last few years, the lesser known Hospices auction – an older foundation than the better known Hospices de Beaune, but one that has been something of a ‘hidden gem’  – has steadily risen in terms of quality and reputation. Last year’s auction saw a record-breaking €3.6m, however this auction this year – the 63rd edition of the historic foundation – saw a 36% decline on last year’s figure, reaching a total of €2,281,500 (£1.94m).

It seems to be something of a paradox – despite the lower totals, the result was still the second-largest total in the auction’s 63-year history, and broke two records, achieving the highest price for its star barrels. The charity pièce Cuvée des Bienfaiteurs, featuring a blend of the estate’s nine premier crus, for example, sold for a record €68,330 (up from €67,430 in 2023) while the Cuvée Hugues Perdrizet drew a record bid of €60,000 from one of the auction’s biggest bidders, Maison Albert Bichot, exceeding last year’s  €40,000 by a wide margin. This cuvée, which debuted last year, was made from a selection of the oldest vines on the estate and named in honour of the first donor to the Hospices de Nuits estate.

Overall, the red wines sold for an average price of  €15,750 per barrel, down 29% on 2023’s sale, reaching a total of €2,220,500 (hammer price) overall, a decline of 36%  on 2023. The only white wine (Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Les Terres Blanches, cuvée Pierre de Pême) sold for €61,000 (hammer price), down 38%  than last year, highlighting the dampening of the market.

Prior to the sale, it was expected that there would be some knock-on effect as the market started to cool last year – the Hospices de Beaune sale for example netted 15% less in November than in 2022. Auctioneer Hugues Cortot told the drinks business that because there were 10 fewer barrels in the sales this year compared to last year, he had expected a lower result, but had been hoping to reach the €3 million mark, and that the dip would only go to around 5% less than last year.

In view of this, the 36% must have been something of a disappointment, with some of the barrels not reaching their pre-sale estimate – but one private buyer at the sale did tell db that he thought the estimate had been set quite high. In the end, though, the sale proved to be a “buyers market”.

However, as consultant wine expert Aymeric de Clouet, who organises the sale along with Corton, told db after the auction finished that it had largely followed the trend of the wider market.

He added that the reputation of the Premier Cru Les Saint-Georges had continued to build despite the market, itself a promising sign.

“The amazing result is that Saint-Georges first growth continues to rise in price despite the difficult market conditions,  so that between Les Saints George and the other premier cru of Nuits-Saintes-Georges, the price difference is growing,” he pointed out. “Saintes-Georges has more and more run towards its Grand Cru status, which everyone believes in, everyone considers it is normal that Saintes-Georges differentiates itself.”

Although it is uncertain when a decision can be expect (“it is supposed to be decided in the next few weeks or a few months or a few years – who knows with French administration” Clouet shrugged) he said that the price comes in anticipation “that it will become a Grand Cru soon.”

Speaking to the drinks business during Saturday’s tasting, technical manager of the estate Jean-Marc Moron said that he was expecting the prices to come down in comparison to 2022 because there had been a brakes on export as the price of Burgundy had risen.  “I think that it will come down – the public, the buyers want a reduction [in price] to be moderate, a small drop. And for me, a small drop is desirable. It is a good image to convey to Bourgogne [prices] to stop going up as there will be more people coming towards us. [Otherwise] there are many people who no longer come to Bourgogne.”

He also noted that although the 2022 vintage had been widely hailed as a good vintage, the more heterogenous 2023 vintage had garnered less attention.

“It was not a vintage with a lot of publicity, so one has to the work of communicating and tastings, because otherwise [buyers] are not interested,” he said.

Moron noted that 2023 had been a more difficult vintage than 2022, and the team removed suckers in May and green harvested in July to order to maintain a reasonable yield, and maintain better balance of acidity. “It was important that we didn’t harvest too much and that’s the reason, that  in the Cote de Nuit we produced less wine in 2003 than in 2022,” he said. Two periods of scorching heat in August meant that after the harvest, the teams had to sort the grapes  very carefully to removed any scorched fruit, resulting in a lower number of barrels this year.

According the tasting notes, the  2023 was “an exceptional year in terms of identity” and “incomparable to its predecessors”. Despite high pH levels, “the wines show freshness, balance and terroir typicity, characteristics that are not indicative of a solar vintage,” the sale brochure noted.

Rising reputation

Laurent Delaunay of négociant Edouard Delaunay argued that although generally the 2023 vintage was not perceived as being as good as the ‘22 vintage, Moron had succeeded in making a very high-quality vintage.

“I tasted a lot of wines in many wineries and cellars and it’s probably one of the highest level I’ve seen for 2023,” he said. “We’re going to have some of the best ‘23 vintage that are available in Burgundy.”

The reputation of Nuits-Saints-Georges has markedly increased in the last six or seven years, he noted – for example in 2017 and 2018, there were some cuvees that did not received any bids.

“But it has totally changed and now there is more interest”, he said. The sale has also been attracting more international appeal, even though the majority of buyers are still French negociants along with some syndicates of private buyers. It was perhaps unfortunate that this year’s auction clashed with ProWein though.  “I know that some of my customers who came last year are at Prowein this year, it makes it slightly difficult when that happens,” he said. “Unfortunately… it was too late for us to coordinate and to change the date of the Hospice de Nuits.”

“What is interesting is that while the Hospices de Nuits is definitely less well-known than the Hospices de Beaune, all the work has to be done to make it discovered,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, I like to showcase things that are a little hidden, because that’s Burgundy. Burgundy has so many appellations, so many terroirs and so there is always something new to discover. And even though Hospices de Nuits has been existing for very long time, because it has been a bit hidden to some extent, it’s a great thing to participate to the rise in the Hospice de Nuits.”



It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No