Terroir of Burgundy … Even if you are taking your first steps in the world of wine, you could hear about it. Burgundy embodies all the elegance and grandeur of the geography and culture of French winemaking. It is usually from the study of Burgundy that many wine courses and programs begin. This is one of the most popular and sought after wines in the world. Even though Burgundy is not such a large region (about 4 times smaller in area than the no less eminent Bordeaux), it is quite diverse, and when different producers, village names, separately the names of vineyards, and classifications appear on the labels, then it is very easy to get confused.
What is the terroir of Burgundy
To explore Burgundy you need to start with the concept of terroir. Terroir is a complex of various natural and not only factors and characteristics of the territory that affect the quality and certain characteristics of agricultural products. This is how the land on which grapes are grown, with all its climatic, soil, hydrological, topographic, as well as viticulture and even cultural characteristics, affects the grapes and the subsequent wine produced and distinguishes it from other wines produced elsewhere. In Burgundy, the concept of terroir is treated especially carefully and scrupulously. It is simply the heart of all the terroir concepts of the winemaking world. So the Burgundian vineyards are very fragmented. The labels of Burgundy wines are replete with the names of villages, climats, and clos. Don’t worry, now let’s talk about everything in detail.
It means a piece of land, which has a special and unique terroir. Climat is more about the natural conditions of the area. There are more than a thousand of them in Burgundy. Some are known and glorified since the Middle Ages. Burgundy climats are even included in the World Heritage List. Please note that climat is not equal to any level of classification of Burgundy wines. So if, for example, a vineyard is called climat, it means that its natural conditions are special, but it can be classified as a grand cru or premier cru, even to be in an appellation of a communal or regional level.
What is Lieu-dit
Lieu-dit is a purely cadastral, that is, the administrative division of vineyards. Typically, such a parcel has topographic or historical features, so it was allocated and entered in the land registry. The concepts of Climat and Lieu-dit have no hierarchy between themselves. So one climat can include several lieu-dits, and sometimes be part of a larger lieu-dit. To explore the vineyards of Burgundy, we still need to pay more attention to Climat than to Lieu-dit.
Clos is also a piece of land on which a vineyard is planted, but fenced off, with a wall, a fence, a hedge. The concept of Clos can be correlated with the concept of Chateau in Bordeaux. This is a kind of winery that can accommodate several plots, including climats.
Due to historical characteristics, the domains of Bordeaux have retained their integrity. In Burgundy after the adoption of the Napoleonic code, when the land could be inherited by all children, Clos can be very fragmented and divided among many owners. All these winegrowers can produce their wine, which may differ depending on the producer, but bear the name of the same Clos as a tribute to the historical heritage. After all, clos is a very traditional name. It is regulated by the European Union and can be put on the label if the wine is made exclusively from grapes grown within the specified Clos.
So, to buy a good Burgundy wine, you need to have something like a matrix system, where the following dimensions will be:
- terroir (appellation, climat, clos)
- producer (since one vineyard can be divided among different producers, which will produce wines of different qualities)
- vintage (from year to year, depending on weather conditions, the wines may differ from each other).
Does this sound complicated? Well, I will not lie to you and say no. It’s difficult, but interesting, especially the further we move forward. Let’s go on this wine journey together, it will be more fun and useful! Subscribe to my pages on Facebook, Instagram or Telegram to keep track of all new publications.