Since 1859 the town of Beaune, the ‘capital’ of Burgundy, has hosted an annual charity wine auction known as the Hospices de Beaune. The event is held on the third Sunday of November at the charity’s headquarters, the Hôtel-Dieu, a fifteenth-century hospice. All profits go to supporting the Hospices and its charity work. The organization was founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin and his wife Guigone de Salins and has operated uninterrupted for more than the 560 years since. The increasing size of the auction has now led to independent auction specialists being contracted to run the auction. Christie’s have been the preferred partner since 2005, and have now extended the auction sales to China, with invitation-only tastings in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
The charity’s core asset, other than the Hôtel-Dieu building itself, are its local vineyard holdings. Over the centuries many prime vineyard sites have been added to the charity’s inventory (including land in such famous Grand Cru sites as Clos de la Roche, Mazis-Chambertin and Corton).