Lieux dits and the Burg Cru system...

Can someone please explain how the system works.
As I understand, the appellations are divided into smaller sub-appellations down to specific vineyards, with vineyard names.

I guess the most ‘prestigious’ vineyards get the Grand Cru designation…but how is this determined?
What about premier cru?
And how does lieux dit come into play?
Can lieux dit be assigned to village wine?

I have a lot more questions… pileon …but let’s start there…

I would love a general explanation of how this all works…Anyone??? [thankyou.gif]

lieux dit are “named vineyards.” Many AC vineyards are named, yet aren’t premier or grand cru. The determinations of what is grand or premier cru can be and sometimes is changed. Read Matt Kramer’s Making Sense of Burgundy for a starter. Yes, some village are lieux dit . . .
alan

Lou Dietz is James Dietz’s brother.

Hope that helps. [snort.gif]

Yak Shaya’s online burgundy primer is quite good:

http://www.yakshaya.com/tutorial.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Alan,
How is/was the Cru level determined? Does this ever change?
Is it like in Bordeaux, e.g. how First Growths were classified?
Do village wines contain declassed GC grapes?
Lieux dit as village wine confuses me…
I know…dumb questions…but someone has to ask. [whistle.gif]

Ken,
You’re a dits. [snort.gif]

Mark,
That’s a pretty cool link.

It’s not like Bordeaux, b/c you can have several owners of one vineyard. Any time you have a sole owner, those vineyards are labeled as Monopole (like La Tache). In theory, vineyards can be upgraded or down graded, but takes quite a bit to get the AOC to change the designations (it becomes very political, as you can imagine). Lieux Dits are helpful, as there are a handful that I regularly buy b/c I find them good and interesting. It has happened where GC and PC fruit will be blended in to village wines (2004 Leroys are a classic example), but it’s rarely done and usually bumps up the prices on the village wines.

Dan,

In Burgundy there are several levels of AOC designations, and usually the quality should be rising with every step (but there are of course other criterias):

  1. generetic AOCs like Bourgogne, Bourgogne Pinot-Noir, B. Grande Ordinaire etc. - covering the whole or a huge part of a viticultural region

  2. regional AOCs like Cote-de Beaune(Nuits)-Villages, Hautes-Cotes-de-Nuits (Beaune), Macon etc. - covering at least several Villages

  3. Village AOCs (Beaune, Volnay, Meursault, Vosne-Romanée etc.) covering one Village only … lieu-dits (specific vineyards) can be indicated or not in combination with Village

  4. 1er Crus: usually those lieu-dits in each Village with better terroir which give better wines … designation VILLAGE + vineyard name.

  5. Grand Crus: those lieu-dits with the best terroir which give the best wines … designation: vineyard name only (without Village). There are some Grand Crus extending over two or three Villages (Montrachet, Corton, Bonnes-Mares …)

The qualities of the specific vineyards have been evaluated over centuries by the owners, wine-makers and authorities … with only tiny changes over the last decades …

For me - personally - its not only about quality but also about character … so usually (with exceptions) I prefer a Village wine WITH vineyard designation over a Village wine WITHOUT - the latter often being a cuvée from several parcels, thereby loosing a bit of its specific character …

Of course the eventual quality of a wine coming from a specific lieu-dit depends also a great deal on the capabilities of the wine-maker, on the age and health of the vines, on the yields and on vintage conditions … but usually in the cellar of a good producer the 1er Crus are better and more characterful than his Village wines, and the Grand Crus better than the 1er Crus (also with exeptions …

It is a fact - fortunately or unfortunately - that most lieu-dits are split up among a great many different owners … for the good or the bad!

Any more questions?

Best regrads
Gerhard

The quality of specific wineyards have been evaluated over many generations - starting with the cistercienser monks many centuries ago … up until the 1930s when the Appellation stystem has been established. The latter was not much more than a confirmation of these experiences regarding quality. Some minor changes have been made … some 1er Crus downgraded to Village AOC, some parcels upgraded to Grand Cru …
The difference to Bordeaux classified growths: this has happened in 1855 with only one change (Mouton-R. in 1973) so far … but the quality is not always congruent with this classification.
Moreover the Bordeaux classification is not for certain vineyards but for Chateaux (which are kind of brands) … purchases and soldes of vineyards have taken place without compromising the classification …

Each vineyard (lieu-dit = given place) has a name - official or unofficial …
The official ones CAN be added to the Village designation, provided the wine is only from this lieu-dit.

Grand Crus (or part of the crop) can be declassified to 1er Crus, and 1er Crus to Village wines if the producer thinks the quality is not up to his standard - usually when from young vines - or when the vintage wasn´t favorable enough … usually they loose the vineyard designation …

E.g. DRC (Domaine de la Romanée-Conti) declassified the Grand-Cru-crop from young vines to Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru in some vintages.

Another example:
The Domaine du Chateau de Vosne-Romanée (Liger-Belair)
owned
one Grand Cru (LA ROMANÉE - monopole)
two parcels in 1er Crus (AUX REIGNOTS, LES CHAUMES)
two parcels of Village wines (La Colombière, Clos du Chateau)

Until 2000 when young Louis-Michel Liger-Belair took over, Bouchard Pere & Fils was in charge of these vineyards.
They released LA ROMANEE GC,
one 1er Cru AUX REIGNOTS,
and a wine called “Vosne Romanée du Chateau” - made from the crop of the small 1er Cru parcel Les Chaumes, and the two village parcels …
technically its a Village wine with declassified 1er Cru grapes.
Now Louis-Michel releases each vineyard on its own, 2 1er Crus and 2 Village-wines with vineyard designations - and BTW all are different.

Although Kramer, (and maybe Gerhard!) can explain it fine, there is another aspect of “lieux dits” that should be understood. Withing certain grand cru vineyards and 1er vineyards are named plots (Clos Vougeot is one notable place)…but the name is irrelevant to the classification; it is all grand cru; 1er cru, etc…just a named (usually historically) vineyard plot within a particular vineyard.

Also, it is imp. to know that some vineyards are split…e.g., Chambolle-Les Cras; Pommard Clos de la Platiere. This means some of it is 1er cru and other parts villages “lieu dit”. It will all have the Cras, Platiere, etc. etc label…but the name of the vineyard doesn’t tell all.

Bottom line: more or less everything in Burgundy is , technically, a lieu dit…in that it is named. The issue is whether the name adds anything meaningful to the consumer, I think…or misleads the unwitting into thinking it is more significant than it is.

Gerhard,

Since you are being so generous with your time and knowledge [wink.gif] , can you offer up some info regarding climats within a G.C. vineyard? Corton being the one that pops to mind immediately.

Stuart is right, there are lieu-dits (vineyards) that are split …
one has to take a careful look on the label …
after 1992 (or so) a 1er Cru (and more so a Grand Cru) HAS TO indicate somewhere its status, either
CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY
LES CRAS
Appellation Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru controllée

or

CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY 1er Cru
LES CRAS
Appellation Controllee

and

MUSIGNY
Grand Cru
Appellation controllee

A wine labelled
CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY
Les Cras
Appellation Chambolle-Musigny controllee
is only from the Village part of the vineyard.

For wines 1990/91 and older it was not imperative to write the status on the label,
often the size of the fonts indicated if 1er Cru or Village
CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY
LES CRAS
was 1er Cru

CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY
Les Cras
was Village …

There was a wonderful discussion on eRP back in the day that included Allen Meadows. The discussion revolved around 1er vineyards that were deserved of GC status. Certainly Cros Parantoux and Les Amoureuses are at the top of the list. I believe there were others. Perhaps parts of Malconsorts and Suchots. Not sure of any from the CdB. One could also certainly make the case for declassifying parts of Clos Vougeot and Corton. The point here is, Cru status does not always equate to quality.

Yes, there ARE Grand Crus with specific climats indicated …
Corton is the most reknowned for that …
(Bressandes, Renardes, Clos du Roi, Vigne-au-Saint, Marechaudes, Le Rognet … )

Clos-Vougeot: “Le Grand Maupertuis” (Anne Gros, Michel Gros)
and “Le Musigni” (!) by Gros Frere & Soeur
but there are quite a lot more in Clos-Vougeot, only never used on labels

ECHEZEAUX
Les Loachausses (Anne Gros since vintage 2007)
or
ECHEZEAUX
Echezeaux du Dessus
(negociant bottle 1964)

CHARMES-CHAMBERTIN
Les Mazoyeres
(indicating that it is in fact from the Mazoyeres-Chambertin part …)

RUCHOTTES-CHAMBERTIN
Clos de la Ruchottes

or
Clos de la
RUCHOTTES-CHAMBERTIN

CHEVALIER-MONTRACHET
Les Demoiselles
(Louis Latour and Jadot)

CHEVALIER-MONTRACHET
La Cabotte
(Bouchard Pere & Fils)

I´ve also seen
CORTON-CHARLEMAGNE
Le Charlemagne

and before 1935
LES GAUDICHOTS OU LA TÂCHE

ROMANÉE-SAINT-VIVANT
Les Quatre Journaux
(Louis Latour)

There are more, but I can´t remember now …

Go to http://www.burgundy-report.com/discover-burgundy/07-the-map-resource/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Click on map for Aloxe and look for the lieu dit Les Paulands.

Then look at http://www.cellartracker.com/list.asp?O=Locale&table=List&SubRegion=C�te+de+Beaune&fInStock=0&szSearch=paulands" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The distinction between lieu dit and appellation should be clear.

I guess this could be argued either way (without resolution). On the one hand, there is the point that you make. On the other hand, blending two different parcels (say one high on the slope and the other on flatter land) can sometimes result in a more complete wine. While all else being equal I would rather have a wine with the more distinctive characteristics when it comes to wines from the greater vineyards (the grand crus and premier crus, although I do buy wines that are a blend of premier crus (like Bouchard’s Beaune de Chateau)) when it comes to villages level wine I am a bit more divided.

Boy, with this thread, this is really becoming a Burgundy board. [winner.gif]

Not sure of any from the Cote de Beaune?

Meursault PERRIERES !

Yes, “sometimes” it can result in a more complete wine … but more complete doesn´t necessarily mean „more interesting“ …

Sure it doesn´t make any sense – and isn´t possible at all – to bottle all village lieu-dits seperately … on one hand a question of tiny quantities, on the other hand not all lieu-dits are THAT interesting …
But IF a good producer decides to keep it seperately usually there is a good reason …

Moreover I find many Village wines from negociants – usually a cuvée of quite a lot of sources – quite boring most of the times … following your argument they should be the most complete wines of all …

Intellectually, at least, blends lose an element of specificity/place, IMO. Though they might taste better, they compromise a very important element in Burgundy…“place”.

Here’s a question, Gerhard/anyone…are the individual grand crus really lieux-dits in the Corton appellation or separate appellations and, therefore, more than lieux dits? I think that’s what an earlier post suggested…that they were lieux-dits withing the Corton appellation…or have I misread?

Can anyone cite an example of a vineyard which was downgraded?

Similarly, has there ever been a downgrade in the 1855 classification?

Maume’s Bourgogne is from land that used to be classified Gevrey-Chambertin. Lafarge’s Bourgogne is from land that used to be classified Volnay. If the maps in various editions of Hugh Johnson’s Wine Atlas of the World are to be believed, there has been some tweaking back and forth at the edges of Echézeaux over the years. But I can’t think of a whole vineyard that has gone down in status.

As for 1855 Bordeaux classification, the only change in either direction was the 1973 elevation of Mouton to first growth status.