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Jan 12, 2014 01:51 PM

Burgundy maps: Climats; Lieux-dits -- definitions/differences?

Norman and Taylor, in "The Great Domaines of Burgundy" (3rd ed 2010) say in their glossary that these two terms are basically interchangeable. Jasper Morris, "Inside Burgundy" (2010, what an amazing tome!) says essentially the same -- his glossary entry for Climat is "a named area of vineyard"; for Lieu-dit, he says "A named place, or vineyard, almost interchangeable with climat."

The relatively new book (in French, which I read poorly) "Climats et Lieux-Dits des Grands Vignobles de Bourgogne" (Sept 2012), by Silvian Pitiot & Marie-Helene Landrieu-Lussigny, obviously draws a distinction -- to the point of providing separate (excellent) full page maps side-by-side for each village, one labeled "climats" and the other "lieux-dits," showing slight changes one from the other in vineyard names. (And yet as mentioned in Morris's book, his (great) maps originate from the same maps by Silvian Pitiot & Pierre Poupon that are apparently the source for the recent Climats et Lieux-Dits book.) Can someone shed light -- what is the distinction in these two terms, especially as so carefully highlighted in the recent book? I infer from some of the maps in the Climats et Lieux-Dits book that climats are a more precise subset of lieux-dits? Thanks -- Jake

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  1. It's my understanding that a Lieu-Dit is a plot of land that is delimited by the AOP system, whereas a climat, CAN be the same thing, but doesn't necessarily hold the same designation. For instance, you can have a few different climats within the same lieu dit, based on the specific aspects of the land, a clos, etc.

    The best example I can think of- Chablis Grand Cru is a single AOP, and the individual Grand Crus of Clos, Vaudesir, etc are climats of Chablis Grand Cru, but legally are all the same AOP. The Lieu Dits of Chambertin, and Clos de Beze are two different AOPs of Gevrey Chambertin, even though Clos de Beze can be listed as simply "Chambertin"

    1. While both refer to specific sites AND are indeed often used interchangeably, It's always been *my* understanding that "lieu-dits" are local names for specific sites that based purely upon local tradition and usage. That is to say, it's unofficial, despite being in common use. In contrast, "climat" is an official, legally recognized, named vineyard.

      1. Hi plaidbowtie and zin1953, I meant to say as few days ago, thanks for your responses. -- Jake

        2 Replies
        1. re: Jake Dear

          Sure! Although we gave opposite answers, I fully accept that I may have gotten them backwards. I didn't double check, and was maybe a bottle of bubbles in at that point :)

          1. re: plaidbowtie

            Yes, and I did notice that the responses didn't exactly mesh! Cheers, -- Jake

        2. Here I'm very tired but I just translated this

          The term "climat" dates of the 14th century, at the time of the Cistercian monks and designated a delineated parcel of vines. It involves factors that the monks had carefully taken into account in the establishment of the first vineyards: meteorological climate, exposure to sunlight, quality and types of soils and sous-sols ... The "climat" is in some way the harmony of man's work and nature down through the centuries. An inheritance of an exceptional universal value to hand down to future generations.

          1. From Wikipedia

            Lieu-dit (plural: lieux-dits) (literally said-location) is a French toponymic term for a small geographical area bearing a traditional name. The name usually refers to some characteristic of the place, its former use, a past event, etc. A lieu-dit may be uninhabited, which distinguishes it from an hameau (hamlet), which is inhabited.

            In some cases, lieux-dits appear on wine labels, in addition to the AOC name. This is most commonly seen for Alsace wine and Burgundy wine. It may not always be easy for consumers to tell if a name on a wine label is a lieu-dit or a cuvée name created by the producer.

            In Burgundy, the term climat is used interchangeably with lieu-dit. The use of the lieu-dit varies with the level of classification of the wine. Although the Grand Cru burgundies are in generally considered to be classified on the vineyard level and defined as separate AOCs (with the exception of Chablis Grand Cru), some Burgundy Grand Crus are in fact divided into several lieux-dits. An example is Corton, where it is fairly common to see lieux-dits such as Les Bressandes, Le Clos de Roi and Les Renardes indicated. For village level burgundies, the lieu-dit may only be indicated in smaller print than the village name to avoid confusion with Premier Cru burgundies, where the village and vineyard name are indicated in the same size print.