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The amount raised at the Hospices de Beaune wine auction, held on Sunday, was significantly down on last year. The annual charity event sees barrels of Burgundy wines from the most recent vintage auctioned in aid of the Hospices Civils de Beaune, a centuries-old medical charity.

As reported, by Decanter and the Wine Spectator, just over €3 million was raised compared to around €4.3 million last year. The auction consists of barrel lots (around 24 cases each) produced from vineyards owned by the Hospices de Beaune. On average the price for red wine lots fell by 26.4%, with the white lots 2.5% down.

Not everyone was displeased, however,  as the Wine Spectator reports:

"I hope that prices will go down," said Bouchard Père & Fils owner Joseph Henriot, moments before the start of the 148th Hospices de Beaune charity wine auction in Beaune on a gray Sunday afternoon. "I'm not sure that the growers yet understand what's been happening in the financial markets."

In the distant past, prices achieved at the annual auction went a long way to setting the prices for that year's vintage as a whole; in more modern times it is seen more as a guide to general sentiment.

The interesting history of the hospices, including the original alms building (pictured above, now a museum and hotel) can be found on the charity's home page and wikipedia.