In 1443 Nicolas Rolin, Chancellor the Duchy of Burgundy began construction of the Hôtel-Dieu in Beaune, site of what was to become a charitable hospital now known as the Hospices de Beaune. Such charitable organisations need endowments to support them and across the years many donors bequeathed vineyards to the Hospices.
In 1859 for the first time the wines of the new vintage from these holdings were sold at auction. Now the hospices de Beaune wine auction is held on the 3rd Sunday in November every year, acting as major moment of Burgundian pageantry and the focal point for launching the new vintage. The Hôtel-Dieu only ceased to function as a working hospital in 1952, while the wines continued to be made and raised on site until the building of a new cuverie on the edge of the town in 1994.
In 2005 the bold move was taken to replace the local auctioneer with Christie’s , led by Burgundy wine expert Anthony Hanson MW. Barrels can be now purchased rather than multiple lots.
The cuvees take their names either from the benefactors, or from famous figures in the history of the Hospices over the last five centuries and more.