White Burgundy Grand Cru at auction: 2009 – 2012

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Burgundian wines cover approximately 25,000ha. of which a mere 200ha. is given over to the production of Grand Cru white wine. As a comparison Bordeaux acreage devoted to white cru classés is probably around 1,600 hectares. Many of these Burgundian parcels are less than 10ha which are then divided amongst many different growers. Fiona Beeston did not exaggerate when she said that “in Bordeaux there are 200 great chateaux, whereas in Bugundy there are 200 great Appellations multiplied by 200 owners, or 40,000 different wines.” The comparison does not stop there. Pitte characterised the viticulturists themselves: “the Bordelais have degrees, speak English and sometimes another foreign language, read the daily economic press, frequently travel to Paris and beyond, dress like English gentleman farmers, play tennis, even polo. In short they are chic mannered. The Burgundians, by contrast, don't often pursue further education, dress rustically or 'sportively', and their manners are proudly borne from peasantry. The former are based in their office and have employees who undertake the manual tasks, the latter, even if they have employees, are also labourers and only spend a part of their time in the office.”

Sales at auction of white Burgundy Grand Cru in 2011 were more than £6million. Burgundy too has not been immune from the two greatest changes in the auction market over the last few years: the arrival of the Chinese buyer and a renewed interest from speculators. It's not just the wine they're buying either: earlier this year a tycoon from Macao bought the Chateau de Gevrey-Chambertin, paying well over its estimated value acquiring it over the heads of the distressed local vignerons who offered nearly twice what it was worth to maintain their patrimony.