Ban de vendange:
The ban de vendange, or harvest bans, is the proclamation of the opening date for the harvest, an ancient custom dating back to the Middle Ages. Nowadays, the start date is set each year by a decision from the Préfecture based on the advice of producers’ unions and the INAO.
The word climat is at first misleading, since it refers to the land, not the climate. It is mainly used for areas classified under the appellation system as premier crus and grand crus – in other words, the best located vineyards with the best soil. It can cover several lieux-dits (see below) or just part of a single lieu-dit.
A clos is a vineyard surrounded by a dry-stone wall capped with several layers of sloping flat stones for rainwater run-off.
A cuvée is a batch of wine from a given vat. It is a homogenous volume of wine so each bottle will have the same characteristics.
Lieu-dit is not specific to wine-growing regions, and simply translates as “place known as” or “called”. As far as winemakers are concerned, a lieu-dit refers to a patch of vine-bearing land which, by local tradition, has been named after a particular topographical or historical feature.
The word ouvrée comes from the verb ouvrer, meaning “to work”. It is an ancient agrarian measurement based on the work one winemaker could do in one day with the simple manual tools of the day. This measurement is equivalent to 4.28 ares (there are around 24 ouvrées in a hectare), and is still used today.
The parcelle, or plot, is the piece of land as shown on the land registry. It is made up of a single, contiguous area of any dimension belonging to a single owner.
The paulée is the traditional dinner to mark the end of the harvests at a given property. The word is local winemaker’s patois and its origins are unclear.
The word pièce in Burgundy means an oak barrel with a capacity of between 225 to 228 liters. This specifically local term is traditionally used in all wine trade transactions. (A pièce contains 215 liters in the Mâcon region, whereas in Chablis the standard barrel is a feuillette of 132 liters.)
A term with no direct translation in English, terroir refers to the specific characteristics that a given plot will give to a wine – certain flavors or aromas, a characteristic structure – and which come from the nature of the land; its soil type, elevation, orientation, microclimate and so on.