Every November the annual Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction takes place in the heart of Burgundy. The auction is one of the wine world’s most prestigious and historic events. For 157 years the auction – which is a charitable event benefitting a hospital built in the 15th century -- has served as a bellwether for growers, negociants and collectors to gauge the quality of new vintage. The fine Burgundies offered to the participants in the Hospices de Beaune auction are made in very limited quantities, and they represent the best of traditional Burgundian winemaking.
Beaune is the heart, soul and capital of Burgundy. A walled, medieval city of ancient buildings and cobble-stoned streets, Beaune is home to the annual Hospices de Beaune wine auction, a charity auction dating to the 15th century. Beaune has always been a natural crossroads, and it was a commercial center as far back as the Roman era. Today Beaune is home to many of Burgundy’s most famous negociants, including Drouhin, Jadot, Latour and Bouchard Pere et Fils. The Beaune appellation includes 1,620 acres of vineyards, of which 95% are planted to Pinot Noir, with the remainder to Chardonnay. Although there are no Grands Crus, there are 44 Premier Cru vineyards which account for nearly half the appellation’s vineyard acreage. The best vineyards are on the upper slopes around the town, and Beaune is especially known for its “clos,” or small, walled vineyards that are often parcels of larger vineyards. There are also Beaune village wines. Robert M. Parker Jr. wrote that the primary traits of Beaune reds in the best vintages are “an intense bouquet of berry fruit, principally black cherries and strawberries. The wines are rarely massive or large scaled, relying more on their smooth, silky, berry fruitiness and harmony to seduce…”
This red wine is relatively light and can pair with a wide variety of foods. The grape prefers cooler climates and the wine is most often associated with Burgundy, Champagne and the U.S. west coast. Regional differences make it nearly as fickle as it is flexible.