Festival of St Vincent
The Festival of St Vincent, the Patron Saint of Winegrowers, always takes place on the first weekend after January 22nd and is usually marked by freezing cold temperatures and often snow!
The Festival rotates around a different Burgundy wine-village each year
The Saturday begins early, at 7.30am, with a procession of around 100 Burgundy winegrowers, representing the Appellations, processing through the host village. The winegrower who is the “guardian” of the St Vincent statuette carries it through the streets alongside musicians and banners representing the village chapters. The 2-hour procession makes its way to the village Church for a celebratory mass attended by Grand Council of the Order. Following the mass, the procession makes its way to an Extraordinary Chapter of the brotherhood to honour “old servants of the vine”.
Throughout the Saturday and Sunday various cellars (caves) are open in the host village for winetasting and there are a variety of artisans displaying arts, barrel-making and the food of the region.
One of the most visually striking aspects is that the village is bedecked in a multitude of hand-made paper flowers which, if the sun shines, can make visitors think it is June, not January despite the cold.
Les Trois Glorieuses de Bourgogne (Three Glorious Days)
Perhaps along with the St Vincent this is the most famous of Burgundy’s wine Festivals. Always held on the third weekend in November, the three glorious days comprise Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Saturday starts with a street fair in Beaune with artisans such as barrel-makers, antique traders, boulangères, artists and others all creating their own stalls through the town centre which is closed to traffic. Many Beaune based large Domaines such as Bouchard and Patriarche will have special tastings for clients and the general public. In the evening the grand dinner of the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin is held in the Chateau de Clos du Vougeot. This invitation-only event is a highlight of the weekend with special guests and the welcoming of new members.
Sunday is the world-famous Wine Auction, now held in the Market Hall in Beaune opposite the Hospice de Beaune or Hotel Dieu which dates from 1443. The Auction itself dates from 1859. The Hospices sells wines “en primeur” from the recent harvest that have only been in the barrel for a matter of weeks. The vineyards of the Hospice total about 61 hectares making 44 different “cuvees” from donated land located throughout the principal villages of the Côte de Beaune with 3 Grand Cru parcels in the Côte de Nuits.
The Wine Auction is described as the largest charity sale in the world. Money raised goes towards care of the sick and elderly, towards the new Beaune hosipital, to repairs to the Hotel Dieu, and the special “Piece de President” towards an annually chosen charity. The auction frequently raises in excess of €5 million, and has historically, but less so now, been regarded as an indicator of Burgundy wine prices for the vintage.
The weekend concludes with an invitation-only lunch in Meursault on Monday called the Paulée de Meursault. Each guest brings his own bottles and the evening is a magnificent feast lubricated with some of the best wines from Burgundy and beyond!