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Climats versus Lieux-Dits

cote de beaune burgundy vineyard depicting multiple owners within a single climat

The difference between the terms "Climat" and "Lieu-Dit" has stumped me for years. They are both defined as "plots of land," often the same plots of land with the same names, but when do you use each of the terms? Even during my two week visit to Burgundy I still couldn't get a common answer to my inquiry on these definitions. But, reading several credible resources, like The Wines of Burgundy by Sylvain Pitiot and Jean-Charles Servant and bourgogne-wines.com, have helped me articulate the difference between these terms. This is how we define "climats" and "lieux-dits" when doing our write-ups at Aabalat:

"Climats" are official vineyard plots that are regulated by the National Institute for Origins and Quality (INAO). The INAO developed this short list of finite plots after centuries of reputation that initiated with the local monks beginning in the 7th century. Each plot has unique geological and climatic conditions that yield equally unique aromas and flavors and quality levels in the wine. There can be several owners of the vines within a climat, and you can notice the differences in the vineyard management between the rows when you walk past the vineyard. Wine bottles from Burgundy, when the wine comes from an official INAO vineyard plot, lists the name of the "climat." On our product detail webpages, we will list the climat under the sub-appellation field.

"Lieux-Dits," on the other hand, are plots of land (usually with vineyards on it) that are often synonymous with the climat, but they are not part of the INAO classifications. Therefore, their boundary definitions are a bit looser. Several wineries choose to list lieux-dits, especially in the village appellations, on wine labels. When applicable, we will also list the lieu-dit of a wine under the sub-appellation field.

Hopefully this helps you as much it helped me to get it straight in my mind. If this topic interested you, you might also be interested in learning more about Burgundy or Chablis, or French wine terms like "clos" or "sur lie."