Meet The Only Chablis At The 161st Hospices De Beaune Wine Auction

Food & Drink

The 161st Hospices de Beaune wine auction will take place this weekend in Beaune, France, the capital of the Bourgogne (Burgundy) wine region. It’s the oldest such event in the world, and one of the most important annual highlights of the wine industry. A single barrel of 2021 Chablis Premier Cru La Côte de Léchet, donated by Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard, will be the only Chablis in the auction. 

Chablis Premier Cru La Côte de Léchet

Jean-Marc Brocard is a family estate since 1973, farmed organically in the Chablis Grand Cru, Chablis Premier Cru, Chablis Village, and Petit Chablis appellations. Chablis is a unique environment in Bourgogne, a region that stands out particularly thanks to a soil type called Kimmeridgean. Chablis wines are regarded for freshness and mineral aromatics, and often serve as the benchmark for this style of Chardonnay around the world. 

“We are proud that Chablis is once again in the spotlight at the 2021 Hospices de Beaune wine auction,” reports proprietor Julien Brocard. “This Côte de Léchet parcel, brought on entirely by Maison Brocard, tasked by the Hospices de Beaune to apply a joint specifications charter, is a superb example.”

Brocard says that Chablis Côte de Léchet has a strong terroir character, due to a limestone soil and clay layer. “The area is also good to achieve a nice ripeness,” he says. “Every year, the wine is a result of a balance between the minerality of Chablis and a good maturity.” He reports that that yields from this parcel are low, but that quality is high.

Only one barrel of this wine was produced, all of it appearing at the auction. Ludivine Griveau, Hospices de Beaune estate manager, describes the character, which she says shows ageing potential: “The aromas are intense and fruity, with notes of pear, fennel and white peach. There is distinct but well-balanced acidity in the mouth, and the finish offers a lovely touch of bitterness and great persistence.” 

The History of Hospices de Beaune

The charity wine arrangement took root when a 15th-century aristocrat donated vineyards to the hospital. In partnership with local winemakers, the hospital used the vineyards to raise money for the sick and needy. Over time more individuals and families donated vineyards, not only from the Cote de Beaune from from other spots in Bourgogne, as symbols of gratitude or support. The holdings now represent some of the most coveted in the world. Today the Hospices de Beaune charity comprises 60 hectares in the Côte de Beaune, the Côte de Nuits, and the Mâconnais.

It is the seventh year that Chablis from Domaine Brocard will be included in the auction, but considering the longevity of this event, that’s a relatively short run. In the 150+ years before Jean-Marc Brocard made his donation, there was no historical relationship between Chablis and the Hospices de Beaune.

Julien Brocard, Jean-Marc’s son, shares why his family is the first from Chablis to participate in the auction. It is required that the vines be offered to the hospital, he says, because the origins of the auction are centered on a tradition in which vignerons based around Beaune would donate their vines when they passed away. “And this Chablis is the only vineyard that has been donated to the Hospices de Beaune by a vigneron during his life,” says Julien Brocard. “This is my father, Jean Marc Brocard, and he is still alive.”

A representation of Chablis at the auction is important because buyers from all over the world attend the event, and many members of the trade as well as wine enthusiasts appreciate the quality of Chablis. Brocard says this is apparent in the conversation buzz during auction weekend each year. “I remember a year when this Chablis was compared to Puligny-Montrachet and other great cuvees of the hospices,” he recalls. “Chablis was really put in front for a price which is still approachable for many buyers.”

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