In Burgundy, the term Climats doesn’t refer to the weather, it actually means the parcels of land which create a procession of vineyards from Dijon to Santenay. France.fr explores this unique Burgundy landscape, a UNESCO classified World Heritage Site.
Unique to Burgundy
You won’t find Climats anywhere else, they exist only in Burgundy. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015, Climats are the result of a viticulture model which meticulously links wine to its exact place of origin. These individual and precisely defined parcels of vineyards each have specific geological characteristics such as soil and exposure to the sun, which gives the wine a unique taste according to where the grapes are grown. The 1,247 Climats are laid out on a thin ribbon of land about 60 kilometres long which runs from Dijon to the south of Beaune.
Chassagne, Puligny, Montrachet... the Climats are named and each is synonymous with great wines. Many of the plots date from the Middle Ages and have a specific geographical or geological feature. For example, the vineyard known as “Romanée”, refers to the proximity of an old Roman road. The plot named “Perrières” is a reference to the local stony ground, while “Montrachet” refers to a hill without vegetation.
2,000 years of heritage
The Climats are the result of a tradition of viticulture dating back to the Gallo-Roman era, more than 2,000 years ago, shown by the discovery of an ancient vineyard in Gevrey-Chambertin in 2008. After the Romans came the Cistercian and Benedictine monks, then the Valois Dukes of Burgundy, then the traders, the vine growers... All contributing to the distinction of these unique Burgundy vineyards that we can enjoy today.
A tradition of winemaking that’s both festive and gastronomic
The traditions of the Climats are respected to this day. On the last weekend of November, the place to be is Beaune where a wine auction has been held since 1859 at the famous Hospices, which owns some of the most legendary vineyards. In January, it's the turn of Saint-Vincent Tournante, an event which celebrates the patron saint of winemakers with parades, tastings and banquets. The Brotherhood of Knights hold Tastevin at the Clos de Vougeot - gargantuan banquets for over 600 guests! And, each June, the Festival of the Mois des Climats celebrates the area’s UNESCO World Heritage with a programme of visits, tastings, walks and festive events.
Dry stone walls and huts
The unique landscape of the Climats is defined by its dry stone wall boundaries and little stone huts which provided shelter for the wine growers and storage for their tools. Many of the stone encircled vineyards also feature a small castle.
The Climats have their own museum
If you’d like to find out more about the Climats and Grands Crus, then head to the Maison des Climats in Beaune for an immersive, digital exhibition about the history of Burgundy’s vineyards.
Maison des Climats (External Link)