Every year, on the third weekend of November, the pretty town of Beaune, Burgundy, celebrate one of the most famous French wine festivals, Les Trois Glorieuses. The name means “The three glorious days” and that is exactly what it is: three wonderful days full of events, good food and excellent wine.
It all started in mid-15th century when Nicolas Rolin, Chancellor to Phillipe Le Bon, Duke of Burgundy, with his wife founded the Hospices de Beaune to care for the poor. The hospital continues to serve the area, albeit in more modern buildings, with the old one being turned into a museum. Over the centuries the hospital received vineyards as charity donations accumulating about 150 acres. In 1851, the first auction was organized to sell the hospital’s wines and the tradition continues to the present day.
Les Trois Glorieuses starts with a street fair where artisans and artists sell their creations. Local wine cellars open their doors for wine tastings, a marathon race through the vineyards nearby is organized and a grand black-tie dinner is held in the Chateau de Clos du Vougeot.
The world-famous Wine Auction starts on Sunday morning with buyers bidding for the Hospices’ wines in barrels, each containing approximately 280 bottles. Bidders have a Burgundy negotiant lined up who will mature the wine and bottle it. Each bottle will have a unique Hospices de Beaune label with the appellation, the name of the person who donated the land and the name of the bidder.
The Wine Auction in Beaune is the oldest and largest charity auction in the world with the latest one in November 2015 having raised over 11 million euros. The money goes to the new Beaune hospital, the museum maintenance and a chosen charity of the year.
The weekend finishes with a huge lunch (paulée) in Meursault with winegrowers where tables groan under the weight of hearty local food and rivers of Burgundy wines flow.
Photos via Flickr by: Marcel Musil, Pierre Metivier, Hervé Corcia.