The Hospices de Nuits charity auction may not currently have the same status as the Hospices de Beaune, but for fifth generation Burgundy winemaker, Laurent Delaunay, it offers huge potential and opportunity for buyers to access some of the highest quality wines being made in this coveted wine region. Here he explains why he is hoping to promote not just the auction, which takes place on March 14 to a wider international audience, but give potential buyers the chance to buy his own pre-selected cuvées from the auction and age the wine in his Burgundy cellars.
Since Laurent Delaunay bought back his family’s Burgundy estate, Edouard Delaunay, in 2017 he has worked hard to re-establish its position in the region, and now wants to play his part in helping to raise the profile and significance of the Hospices de Nuits charity auction that celebrates its 60th anniversary this month.
Spend an hour in the company of Laurent Delaunay and you come away inspired by his love, passion and excitement for Burgundy, a region that has been the home for his family for generations.
As good wine stories go the opportunity he had in 2017 to buy back the family’s estate from corporate ownership takes some beating. It not only brought the Edouard Delaunay property and vineyards back into family ownership, it was the inspiration and opportunity for Delaunay to go on and achieve his life ambition of making the best possible wines he could from the family’s land. He was also able to combine it with the Château de Charmont property in the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits, which the Delaunay family purchased in the 1950’s.
But even he could not have dreamt of the success he and the property has had in the subsequent three and a bit years. The wines he, and winemaker Christophe Briotet have been able to produce have gone on to pick up some of the region’s and world’s most prestigious wine awards. Including pretty much a clean sweep at the IWC 2020 awards which saw the estate win 15 gold, 30 silver and seven bronze medals as well as picking up eight trophies, including the Burgundy Trophy, French Red Trophy, and International Pinot Noir Trophy – Briotet was also named IWC Red Winemaker of the Year.
Giving something back
Although clearly delighted to have made such an immediate impact, Delaunay is also aware of his family’s long and strong connections to the region and is keen to do what he can to give as much back to the region as it has given him and his predecessors.
Which is why the Hospices de Nuits charity auction has such a personal significance to him and the Delaunay family. Particularly his grandfather who was inextricably linked to the auction’s history being responsible for personally raising so much for the local hospital by being the exclusive distributor of the Hospice’s wine before the auction was established in 1961.
It is a role that Delaunay is only too keen to continue now that he has the opportunity to do so. “It is that very close relationship we have had with the Hospice de Nuits that we now want to promote,” explains Delaunay.
He certainly recognises the Hospices de Nuits auction lies in the shadow of the more famous and world renown Hospices de Beaune, which even has the backing and support of auction house, Christie’s behind it.
But there is no reason why the Hospice de Nuits auction cannot build its own unique reputation in the fine wine market, both in the trade and with private customers and collectors, says Delaunay. Particularly as it has history on its side and was founded some 200 years ago before the Hospices de Beaune.
It can also claim to be making wines, that come from its 12 and a half hectares of land and vineyards, that date back to the Middle Ages, and include a Monopole, Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Didiers. In addition, the Hospices de Nuits estate is one of the biggest owners of the Premier Cru Les St Georges, the most iconic Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru.
“So we have lot of assets in our favour,” says Delaunay.
Hospices de Nuits auction: how it works
The Hospices de Nuits auction takes place on March 14 and, for the first time due to Covid restrictions, will allow buyers and bidders to take part online from anywhere in the world. It is a chance to potentially buy some of the most sought after en primeur wines in the region, whilst raising money for the local hospital and retirement homes at the same time.
Buyers are able to bid for barrels of wine, containing the equivalent of 24 cases of wine or 288 bottles.
Delaunay is looking to help his international distributors and their customers take part by giving them access to his selection of six cuvées from the auction that he believes offer the most potential and represent different appellations and terroirs (see below for more detail on each cuvée).
He has worked with the Hospices to give him access to a certain volume of wine that he will then bid for on the behalf of any buyer that wants to take part – working to an agreed amount.
“Over the last two to three years we have been working with our distributors all over the world to draw their attention to this event and explain to them why it is so special,” he explains.
“We are now offering to take part in the auction for them. Any wine they buy we will then handle all the transportation and administration to bring them into our winery where we will do all the maturing, and bottling of wine in 12 to 18 months time.”
He adds: “We have an optimum price that we will have agreed with our customers, going up to a maximum bid. If the auction goes higher then we will reimburse our customers or they can bid for another wine.”
To help distributors and customers better understand and know the wines they are bidding for, Delaunay has been able to send them 5cl samples of each of the cuvées he is bidding for. “That’s all part of the package,” he adds.
What’s more Delaunay will also provide buyers with their own personalised labels from the cuvees they buy. Private and trade buyers who buy 24 bottles or more of one the six cuvées he has selected, can receive bottles labeled in their name. Delaunay will also bid for any other wines they might want from the other 18 cuvées in the auction, providing they are willing to bid for a full barrel.
Ironically not being able to accept international visitors due to covid might actually help the Hospices de Nuits gain a bigger global audience as people and businesses can take part from wherever they are in the world.
“We hope the online auction will give it more of an international profile. We think the wines certainly deserve it and there are many reasons to buy them.”
Delaunay has been able to take advantage of his own international network of distributors with importers in 65 countries. He says he has been delighted by the level of interest shown by them and their customers and has created his own bespoke website to help keep them informed and engaged with the whole process.
You can also bid for yourself in the auction by going to the specialist website, interencheres.com, but here you will have to commit to buying a full barrel and then find a local partner and pay for the additional costs of having it aged, matured and bottled in Burgundy.
“We are providing all of that as part of our inclusive offer,” adds Delaunay. “We will bid, do all the paperwork, store and age the wine and then delivered the bottles direct to them.”
Delaunay says there are other negotiants and producers who are offering similar services, but is confident his overall auction package is the “ultimate” in what is available from the region.
The speed in which Delaunay has been able to build up the amount of wine he has he been able to buy at the Hospices de Nuits illustrates just how fast his overall Burgundy has grown.
In 2017, when he had just returned to the region, he just bought the one barrel at auction. In 2018 it was two barrels, and then three in 2019. But for 2021, such has been the interest in his auction promotion, he is looking to buy 10 to 15 barrels – a significant proportion of all the barrels available.
The 2020 vintage
Delaunay is particularly excited about offering these wines to his customers as the 2020 vintage has so much potential. “It is a very good vintage,” he says. “The weather was perfect up until the middle and end of July. We had a very hot August which meant the vines suffered a little bit but despite the hot weather the wines, particularly the Pinot Noir, has kept that all important freshness.”
In fact it is the freshness and acidity in the wines that are a real hallmark of the overall Hospice de Nuits region. Wines that are both fresh but also rich in fruit with real depth to them, which makes them ideal fo ageing, adds Delaunay. “That’s what make them unique.”
“The first vintage I worked on was 1985 and this is probably one of two or three of the best vintages I have seen since then. The Hospices de Nuits have been perfectly made this year. It is a very good year to be buying wines at the Hospices de Nuits auction.”
Edouard Delaunay estate
He says he could not be happier with how the Edouard Delaunay estate is developing and the awards and accolades it has received are all good for the confidence of the team.
“We are building our distribution everywhere we want to and I could not be more proud of my team and Christophe, our winemaker. To win the awards – like the best International Pinot Noir Trophy – was incredible. We really are all thrilled. The comeback the Maison has had is seen as a true phenomenon and it hopefully gives confidence to our customers – so why not age your wines from the Hospices de Nuits with us.”
The Hospices de Nuits Auction: Facts and figures
- Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges was founded in 1270 some 200 years before Hospice de Beaune.
- The Hospices was able to build up its network of vineyards thanks to benefactors giving it a vineyard as a gift.
- The Nuits-Saint-Georges charity auction includes a barrel devoted to the Pasteur Institut, which has been involved in Covid research. Last year this barrel fetched €42,000 in the charity auction.
- Local experts claim the wine and terroir of Hospices de Nuits are actually better than around Beaune as it sits in the Côte de Nuits and is close to Vosne Romanée, Echezeaux, Vougeot amongst others.
- In all there are 18 cuvées from Nuits and Gevrey Chambertin.
- The recent renovation of the hospital and retirement home in Nuits-Saint-Georges was 50% financed by profits from the Hospices de Nuits wine auction.
- Total sales in the 2020 auction reached €1,614,500 with an average increase per barrel of 34%.
- The 60th edition of the auction takes place on March 14 at the Chateau de Clos de Vougeot.
Laurent Delaunay’s six specially selected cuvées to bid for
Premier Cru Les Saint-Georges Cuvée des Sires de Vergy
This exceptional cru is widely known as producing very complex wines, and this cuvée is produced from vines of 45 years of age on average. It comes from a unique soil combination that includes rocky, stony, well-drained and a variety of Bathonian stones. The length and complexity of this cuvée comes through in an agreeable, amiable wine, open and already aromatic. It also has great cellaring potential.
93/100 – Vinous – AG
2020 tasting notes by Laurent Delaunay: ***** A very beautiful black red colour. The nose is still slightly closed but at the same time complex, still raw, between power and freshness. On the palate, it is a very complex, fresh, velvety, structured wine, mixing sweetness and elegance. A great wine.
Premier Cru les Didiers Cuvée Cabet
In the heart of the estate Monopole, the cuvée Cabet is made from vines about 40 years old and yet its character is still that of an almost young vine – a succulent wine, explosive in the mouth, offering a broad aromatic palette of spices. Very appealing in its youth, it has great potential to evolve, a legacy from the terroir, underpinned by the age of the vines and the parcel.
Vintages 2013 and 2014:
17/20 Jancis Robinson
92/100 Jeannie Cho Lee
2020 tasting notes by Laurent Delaunay: ****++ A nose on blue fruit (blueberry, juniper), spices (thyme) and fine wood. The palate presents a superb attack and a very nice balance. Between beautiful acidity and sweetness, the wine also reveals woody and velvety notes, reminiscent of the great 1985 vintage.
Find our more here: https://burgundyauction.wine/cuvees/cabet/
Premier Cru les Porrets-Saint-Georges Cuvée Antide Midan
Usually a great wine for laying down, in 2019 Les Porrets-Saint-Georges has given us an exceptional wine, containing all the elements of a cuvée of tremendous longevity and complexity. Its particular soils of deep, brown limestone that is very gravelly, and pebbles of white oolite, have ensured harmonious growth in the vines. This vintage is an archetypal Nuits-Saint-Georges premier cru because of its richness and its power, while retaining a certain minerality.
2020 tasting notes by Laurent Delaunay: **** A dark red color. A very nice attack on the palate, a rich, deep, structured wine, with fairly marked oak. However, a nice sweetness and density. This wine presents a very nice balance.
Find out more here: https://burgundyauction.wine/cuvees/antide-midan/
Premier Cru les Corvée Pagets Cuvée St Laurent
On soil typical of the Nuits-Saint-Georges appellation, although located to its south, this aristocratic cru promises finesse, elegance and distinction. It is the most delicate of the southern crus, its colour is a typical Burgundy ruby red and it remains refined in its strength. This vintage is already very expressive in tastings.
92/100 Cellar Tracker
2020 tasting notes by Laurent Delaunay: ****+ A pretty deep red color, an expressive nose. On the palate, a superb attack, a remarkable sweetness. The tannins are very well integrated, giving the wine a superb balance. The finish is long.
Find our more here: https://burgundyauction.wine/cuvees/saint-laurent/
Gevrey-Chambertin les Champs Chenys Cuvée Irène Noblet
The only exception to the ensemble of Nuits-Saint-Georges wines present here, this famous Gevrey-Chambertin parcel is often mistakenly presented as a premier cru, but this confusion is because it is of such high quality. In fact it is located just under Les Charmes. The wine expresses itself fully this year with an intense colour, great length and ripe aromas, giving us a smooth wine, without sacrificing its ageing potential
2020 tasting notes by Laurent Delaunay: ****
A very beautiful color. A pretty nose, frank and balanced, with notes of violet, blackcurrant and liquorice. On the palate, this wine presents a very beautiful substance, in the purity, as well as beautiful tannins, and a length in mouth already well developed.
Find out more here:https://burgundyauction.wine/cuvees/irene-noblet/
Les Maladières – Les Brûlées Cuvée Grangier
These six parcels of twin crus, located under Les Porrets and La Roncière, are blended to express a fairly soft, fresh Village, despite coming from the southern part of Nuits-Saint-Georges. A wine appreciated for its elegance, this year it offers us a little more power which makes it even more charming.
2020 tasting notes by Laurent Delaunay: **** Beautiful dark red color, a fine nose. An elegant palate where notes of fruit and a nice woodiness blend. An expressive, fresh, elegant wine with very fine tannins.
Find our more at: https://burgundyauction.wine/fr/cuvees/grangier/