Are you familiar with Burgundy’s ‘Climats’? As a clue, it has nothing to do with the weather, but rather a treasure trove of wines. But which wines are we talking about in particular? And what is their history? We take a closer look at a wine region which has just dedicated three different venues to its individual vineyard sites – the Cité des Climats et vins de Bourgogne.
- What are Burgundy’s ‘Climats’?
- A history spanning centuries
- The Burgundy wine region
- 1 ‘Cité des Climats et vins de Bourgogne’ in 3 different locations
What are Burgundy’s ‘Climats’?
The word ‘Climat’, with a capital C is the Burgundy term referring to vineyard sites. It designates a block of vines which has been demarcated, named and farmed, often for centuries. Each ‘Climat’ has its own specific geological and hydrometric conditions and aspect. The winegrowers that farm them work with a single varietal. They harvest and make wine separately from one grape variety and the resultant wine can therefore be named after its original ‘Climat’.
A history spanning centuries
The identity of the ‘Climats’ and their growths started to emerge in the 6th century along the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune. Over the centuries, monks, dukes, MPs, notables, shippers and winegrowers built up the fabric of vineyards known as ‘Climats’. There are exactly 1,247 vineyard blocks delineated by walls of varying sizes, dry stone huts and paths, like a finely detailed mosaic. The creation of appellations in 1935 officialised the Climats and their growths, and since July 4, 2015, Burgundy’s Climats have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage. This prestigious world first recognises the ‘outstanding universal value’ of the combined work of man and nature.
The Burgundy wine region
The wine region extends over 230 kilometres in length from North of Chablis to South of Mâcon, spanning 30,052 hectares of vines. It is managed by 3,577 wine estates, 16 co-operative wineries and 266 trading companies. Annual production totals 1.45 million hectolitres, divided between 60% white wines, 29% reds and rosés and 11% Crémant de Bourgogne. Over 200 million bottles of wine are marketed annually, half of them shipped overseas.
Of Burgundy’s 84 AOCs (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée), a special mention goes to the Côte de Nuits and its iconic appellations, which include Gevrey-Chambertin, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Vougeot and Vosne-Romanée where one of the world’s most prestigious wineries is located – Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.
Or the Côte de Beaune, home to Pommard, Volnay and Montrachet, the superb Grand Cru which ranks among the world’s finest dry white wines. As an aside, its ‘Climat’ Montrachet expresses the lack of vegetation at the top of the hill.
1 Cité des Climats et vins de Bourgogne in 3 locations
The Cité, which officially opened in June 2023, has been designed in 3 locations – Chablis, Beaune and Mâcon. Its purpose is to introduce visitors to the region’s viticultural and cultural heritage through farming vines and producing wines, from North to South.
In Chablis, in the small cellar at Petit Pontigny, an historic building dating back to the Middle Ages, visitors discover the vineyards of northern Burgundy – Chablis, the Auxerrois and Châtillon regions.
In Mâcon, the vineyards of southern Burgundy are showcased at the Burgundy wine marketing board’s facilities.
Beaune, the largest of the three Cités, embodies the overall identity of Burgundy and its Climats. It highlights the specific features of each part of Burgundy – Chablis, Grand Auxerrois, Châtillonnais, Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais.
With Pinot noir and Chardonnay reigning supreme, Burgundy now has three focal points to welcome visitors and showcase its Climats and its wines.
Anne Schoendoerffer, © AdobeStock_photographyfirm