This weeks article from C. Robert Collins is about his impressions from the Hospices de Beaune auction in 2015:
“HOSPICES 2015 DEJA VU? NON. “
One of the great wine events on the calendar is the Hospices de Beaune auction and harvest celebration.
It is the unofficial first peek at the new vintage and the official start of the Public relations/marketing season. The wine isn’t wine yet, it is just juice, but that doesn’t stand in the way of the race to be the first journalist to predict the future. This year, Beaune held a mini-marathon in the middle of the weekend, a polar opposite to the goal of the press. First to finish talking, vs getting it right at the finish.
So what does 2015 compare to? well, it doesn’t. This is normal, vintages are all different. Comparisons, though, are more prolific than politics. What is known from the hospices is : it is short by 50% from last vintage. Small berries, dark color, lots of tannin, low acids, high alcohol…….It sounds like a great vintage, if you are IN CAHORS. Burgundy? watch out!
It is necessary to advise this warning because the speculators and opportunists have seized this harvest as the next moment to create a stampede. There is a SanFrancisco company that is advertising Burgundy 2015 as the greatest in a decade, and the moment to buy “for investment”. They have gone so far as to list some of the Grand Cru specifically by producer and vineyard as examples of the secret list of ‘hot stocks’ that they will buy for you. Other crystal ball gazers have appeared in print proclaiming the same. Hong Kong is a-buzz.
So let’s be clear, anyone who tells you that they know what a wine in this vintage tastes like does not know what they are talking about. All indications are that the results are very complicated, that numerous factors will have to be considered, and the personality has not come close to being completely revealed yet.
I was discussing possibilities after tasting the Hospices cuvees with experienced winemakers and we were at a loss as to the choices. Not very many Cuvees looked promising. Whites look alcoholic and not very promising. Reds showed only slightly better. 14.2 alcohols at this stage look difficult to control in the face of apparent tannins.
Do NOT be misled by those that will point to the results of the auction as an indication of #1.; Quality, #2.; investment potential. Christies auction house did a splendid promotion world wide against a small number of barrels. The crowd I bumped into on Sunday in the facility would have been more at home in a London gallery bidding on Andy Warhols. Status, not wine, was the driving force behind 13,000 euro barrels of Beaune. This was a contest to show how much money you have, ala a Hong Kong Lafite auction, not a shrewd buy of great wine.
Burgundy is a poor place for futures speculation. The last time I saw this, in the 2005 vintage [this is not 2005 by the way] prices escalated before the wine was bottled,fueled by a stock broker mentality within the Banking boom [soon to go bust] and handed someone very expensive bottles, some of which are painfully tannic even today.
If you drink wine, this is a warning. If you do not, then you are reading the wrong column,you won’t find a crutch here.
C. Robert Collins