The record sums paid at this week’s Hospices de Beaune auction is proof positive that the wine trade is in amazing health and not, in fact, completely skint, according to experts.
‘I am wasting the stars…’
Prices have been described as ’eye-watering – even by the standards of Burgundy’, with a barrel of Corton selling for a sum described as ‘marginally less than the budget for the European space programme – though still apparently well within the range of your average wine merchant.’
‘Honestly, we thought that the trade was screwed,’ said drinks analyst Mac Rowe-Economics. ‘Not least because that’s what they keep telling us.
‘So it was a lovely surprise to see that so many of them apparently have so much spare cash they can afford to drop six figures on a questionable vintage of Burgundy that won’t be drinkable for another two years.
Producers in Burgundy have described this year’s Hospices as ‘restoring some much-needed hype to the region’ after a tiny vintage saw levels of self-promotion slump to an all-time low.
‘Coverage this year is tiny,’ admitted Monty Rachet of the group Burgundians Against Reality. ‘And even doing our usual trick in crap vintages of telling people how exceptional the quality is hasn’t worked because everyone knows they aren’t going to be able to buy any.’
‘It was tragic seeing the vines so bereft of life at harvest time,’ agreed Nix Croppe of Domaine des Raisins Foutus. ‘The level of TV crews was the lowest I can remember.’
The Hospices de Beaune is a charity auction that sees rich people bid for wines that have barely finished fermenting in a globally-recognised display of altruistic stupidity.
Its principal function is to generate money for charities that can’t fund themselves by selling bang average Chardonnay for €40 a bottle.
But it is also crucial in raising public awareness for deserving causes – namely Burgundy.
‘This has been a tough year,’ said Rachet. ‘So it was good for us to come together like this and prove that charity begins at Beaune.’
This year saw the smallest number of barrels go under the hammer since 2006, which is also reckoned to be the last time that Burgundy was affordable to anyone who isn’t a Russian oligarch.
The 360 barrels sold for a record €2.6 squabillion, comfortably surpassing last year’s €1.5 bajillion, and making Burgundy officially worth more per kilo than a Maserati, only with the added excitement of cork taint and brett.
‘It just goes to show that even in a bad year we are capable of an exceptional expression of what Burgundy is all about,’ said Rachet.
‘Namely hype, horseshit and unhinged pricing.’