Burgundy Vineyards Continued Ascent as France’s Priciest

Dreams of a life growing wine grapes in Burgundy are getting more expensive every year.

The average cost of buying Burgundy grand cru vineyards, France’s most-expensive wine property, rose 5.3 percent in 2013, the Agriculture Ministry wrote in an online report today. Prices advanced for a 17th year, reaching an average 4 million euros ($5.4 million) for a plot the size of a rugby field.

Of the world’s 50 most expensive wines, 32 are a grand cru from Burgundy and another six are first growths from the region, according to a ranking by Wine-Searcher drawn from a database of 6.3 million prices. The list is headed by Domaine de la Romanee-Conti in Burgundy’s Cote-d’Or region, with an average price tag of $13,659 a bottle for the estate’s Romanee-Conti Grand Cru as of June 1.

“In Cote-d’Or, the prices continue to climb, no matter the appellation,” the Agriculture Ministry wrote in a report on agricultural property in Burgundy. “Vineyard transactions are sharply down, which doesn’t stop prices from rising again.”

Burgundy grand cru wine property changed owner for between 2 million and 9.5 million euros a hectare (2.47 acres) last year, the ministry wrote. The average price rose from 3.8 million euros a hectare in 2012, and has climbed every year from 1.22 million euros in 1996, data show.

As a comparison, in Bordeaux’s Pauillac wine region, home to Chateau Latour and Lafite Rothschild, average vineyard prices were 2 million euros a hectare in 2012. In Champagne’s most-expensive Cote de Blancs appellation, wine-property prices averaged 1.56 million euros a hectare.

Grand Cru

For Burgundy’s first-growth vineyards, considered a level below grand cru in prestige and quality, the price for a plot of white-wine grapes in Cote-d’Or rose to an average 1.27 million euros a hectare last year from 1.22 million euros, according to the ministry. For red-wine grapes in that category, it rose to 525,000 euros a hectare from 500,000 euros.

Burgundy has 559 hectares of grand cru vineyards and 3,326 hectares of first growths, jointly making up about 14 percent of the grape growing area, according to the region’s wine board, BIVB. Reds account for 56.8 percent of the grand cru area and 44.2 percent of first growths, the board’s data show.

“In Burgundy, transactions of vines represent around 2 percent of the area of the agricultural real-estate market and 33 percent of the value,” the ministry wrote.

France asked the United Nations in January to add the vineyards of Burgundy’s Cote de Beaune and Cote de Nuits, jointly known as Cote-d’Or, to a list of world heritage sites.

The vineyards are a patchwork of 1,247 named plots called climats that dates back to Roman times. The region’s vintners say soil, exposure and micro climate as well as farming methods, collectively known as terroir, give wines from each plot a unique character.

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