Burgundy’s top lots generated record-breaking bids at this year’s Hospices de Beaune auction, with a number of wines achieving higher prices than those seen in both 2009 and 2005. According to Decanter, the average prices paid for white wines rose by 15.7%, whilst the average for reds rose by 12.5%. But although the mean price per lot increased this year, the number of barrels on offer was curtailed by more than 20% owing to the vintage’s lower yields. As a result, total sales descended from last year’s high of €5.4 million to €5.1 million.
Hospices auction results are no longer considered to have a significant impact on vintage pricing; however, they are seen as a guide to general sentiment. And given the plethora of enthusiasm that surrounded the event’s most eminent wines – culminating in a bid of over €400,000 for a 500-litre tonneau of Beaune Premier Cru Nicolas Rolin – there does appear to be a keen appetite for the 2010 vintage. Importantly, a growing portion of demand now appears to be coming from Asia.
This year saw more registered bidders from Asia than from the US, with the former accounting for 12.5% of total sales, ahead of 1.6% of sales. (The vast majority of lots, however, still remain in Europe.)
These results add to the growing anecdotal evidence that the Burgundian trade has the Chinese market firmly in its sights. Nonetheless, we have yet to see any notable increase in demand for top Burgundy on the exchange (or significant upwards price movement). For now, at least, Bordeaux's dominance in Asia remains unchallenged.