I'd planned to go myself but the trip to Hong Kong came up.
So we called Bernard. Bernard Derain is one of my very best friends. I trust him totally. We asked Bernard to go and bid for us – without his drinking mate Alain Roy 'cos that would be risky; those two together = danger – and he agreed.
He's never agreed to go before. 35 years in the business, (he runs the Mancey cellars where we buy most of our white Burgundy) and been to the pre-auction tastings almost every year, but never wanted to buy before. Always told me 'no'. Hospices Auction wines always command higher than average prices but they can be very special, are quite unique … and all in a good cause.
This year for the first time he was after a couple of wines for himself and thought we could get a couple of goodies too.
Anyway he bid very well. The wines he went for were offered in six lots of a barrel each. The first barrel always goes for a lot. Both times Bernard waited, held his nerve and bid for the fourth and got the lowest price of the day.
He got us the Pommard we wanted and the Beaune Premier Cru 'Nicolas Rolin'. Not cheap. But it’s satisfying that other bidders paid far more for the same wines. They stay in the Hospices Cellars until Christmas whereupon Bernard will take them to his cellars at Tournus until bottling.
Anyone interested should call Will Waters or one of his posh mates in Fine Wine on 0845 194 7801 and they'll give you a price/ note you down for a priority call when we.../ give you all the details/ ...whatever!!!
"La fête fût surtout longue" says Bernard, being as one of his lots was at the beginning and one at the end...so he was there from 2.30pm to 9.00pm. It’s tough in the wine trade! But fun; his note finishes;
"C’était en tous cas très excitant et j’ai dû me retenir pour ne pas prendre quelques pièces supplémentaires. Mais j’ai été raisonnable".