The 2023 Hospices de Beaune wine auction raised a whopping €23.3m and created a rather magical slice of history at the same time. 

Wine aficionados flocked to the former almshouse in Burgundy for the 163rd sale, which took place on November 19 and raised the event’s second highest total of €23,279,800. The money which will go towards improvements at the Hospices Civils de Beaune, which comprises the hospital centres of Beaune, Arnay-le-Duc, Seurre and Nuits-Saint-Georges. 

As it does every year, the 60-hectare Hospices de Beaune wine estate, which is nearing the end of its three-year conversion to organic production, sold off its charity barrel, known as the Pièce des Présidents, and this year it made for a rather special showstopper.  

Ludivine Griveau, manager of the Hospices de Beaune wine estate, said: “We were asked by the d’Harcourt family, owners of the forest estate in the Vibraye forest, to produce a very special cask that contains an equally extraordinary wine. The barrel is made from the wood of an oak tree that was also used to restore the spire of Notre-Dame in Paris. A remaining part of this tree was entrusted to the Barraud stave mill in Charente and then to the Cadus cooperage to make the barrel.”  

2023 Hospices de Beaune wine auction
Copyright Hospices de Beaune

In 2021, the d’Harcourt family decided to donate 10 prestigious trees for the restoration of the cathedral’s nave and spire, which were destroyed in the 2019 fire.  

“One of the 220-year-old trees measured 19m, and the architects only needed 15.5m,” explained Bernard d’Harcourt, manager of the Domaine de Vibraye forestry group in Sarthe. “At that point, my father and I decided to donate the remaining amount for the Pièce des Présidents. This project is a great achievement and the Pièces des Présidents will have its eastern counterpart in the spire of Notre Dame in Paris.”  

The charity barrel raised funds for research into ageing well, with a particular focus on research into the brain and genes that can delay the ageing process. 

The history of the Hospices Civils de Beaune dates back to 1443 when Nicolas Rolin and Guigone de Salins decided to build a hospital, the Hôtel-Dieu. The Hôtel-Dieu has not welcomed patients or elderly residents since the early 1980s. The estate includes 600 hectares of prime wine-growing land, vineyards which have all come from bequests and donations. Their production is auctioned every year on the third Sunday in November, as part of the world’s oldest charity wine sale.

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