Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hospices de Beaune Charitable Wine Auction

Today and since 1859, on the third sunday of November the wine auction of the Hospices de Beaune takes place. It is a tradition to auction wines from the prized vineyards of Burgundy to raise funds for  Beaune hospital and other charitable organizations.

Hospices de Beaune
The auction event takes place at the Hotel-Dieu, a former hospital built in 1443 by Nicholas Rolin ( the wealthy chancellor to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy)   and his wife Guigone de Salins to treat the poor, the disabled, the elderly, the orphans and anyone in needs.  The building in the center of Beaune is considered a gem of medieval Burgundian Flemish architecture, remarkable for its colorful patterned glazed tiled roof as well as its ornate carved gables and pinnacles.

Salle des Pauvres
The Hospices served as a hospital till 1971 and is now a museum.    Inside, the Grande Salle des Pauvres (Paupers' ward) is impressive for its size (more than 160 feet long) and its barrel wooden ceiling more than 50 feet high. The length of the room is  lined on each side by a row of re-created crimson curtained hospital beds.  In the Apothecary room, where the hospital nuns used to prepare potions and  special unguents using plants grown in the hospital garden you can view  copper alembics, bronze mortars and  a collection of 1782 ceramic medicinal jars.  

But the main attraction at the Hospices de Beaune is the masterpiece of Rogier van Der Weyden -the polyptych of Last Judgment dating from the 15th century and commissioned by Nicholas Rolin to be displayed in the chapel for patients' edification
Rogier Van Der Weyden- Last Judgment
Nicholas Rolin also donated vineyards to the Hospices ; subsequent benefactors enriched the estate and today it totals 57 hectares of grand cru and premier cru wines.  The profits from the wine auction is to benefit the modern hospital, maintain the historic buildings, museum and vineyards.  

The wine auction this sunday raised 5.7 million euros ( a record from last year 5.3 million euros).  Among the wines being auctioned were cuvees from Corton, Pommard, Batard-Montrachet, Echezeaux, Meursault) .  The charity piece, 456 liter Meusault Genevieres 1er cru fetched 131,000 euros.

Tags: Beaune, Burgundy wine, Beaune wine auction, Hospices de Beaune.

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