Two years after the Climats of Bourgogne were recognised as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, a visitor centre has opened to explain the importance of the region’s terroir to trade, tourists and locals alike. The Maison des Climats in Beaune includes audio-visual features in French and English, maps, geology displays and a scale model.
‘This place explains the link between the wine, the land, the villages, the towns,’ said Bertrand Gauvrit, director of the Association des Climats du vignoble de Bourgogne. ‘We need to make people understand why Bourgogne is so different and so special.’
The UNESCO listing covers a 60km-long stretch of vineyards in the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits – one of the largest area of land in the world to be protected in this way. It contains 1,247 different parcels, or Climats, each with a unique terroir.
‘The notion of a Climat can be very complicated, but in essence it’s just a wine that tastes of a place,’ said Cécile Mathiaud of the BIVB, which is one of the sponsors of the Maison. ‘We recommend people working in the wine trade to come here before they visit the vineyards, for a good introduction to the wines.’
The Maison, which is located near the Hospices de Beaune, will be open seven days a week (except Christmas day and New Year’s day) and admission is free. Gauvrit added: ‘Every year 500,000 tourists visit the Hospices de Beaune – we hope to attract a large number of them to come here as well.’
The Association des Climats du vignoble de Bourgogne plans to open further educational centres in individual appellations such as Chablis, as well as funding renovation projects to restore the dry stone walls around the vineyards and working with the University of Dijon to research the cultural heritage of winemaking in the region.