Prosecco receives UNESCO World Heritage status

The status was officially announced on Sunday for the Prosecco landscape, and includes Le Colline del Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene, and the DOCG vine growing area; “characterized by ‘hogback’ hills, ciglioni — small plots of vines on narrow grassy terraces — forests, small villages, and farmland,” states UNESCO.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee, met in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Sunday to congratulate Italy and its Veneto Prosecco region.

The campaign to nominate Prosecco started in 2008, and Italy’s National Commission for UNESCO officially gave its support January 2017. The application included submitting a 1,300-page dossier.

‘For centuries, this rugged terrain has been shaped and adapted by man.’
In particular, the training of vines since the 17th century has helped contribute to the unique aesthetics of the landscape.

This region spans over 500 towns, with 15 towns producing Prosecco Superiore DOCG – the top-quality bubbly produced.

Italy has more UNESCO sites than any other country in the world, with a total of 55.
Some wine regions, including Barolo and Pantelleria, with seven UNESCO sites in Tuscany.

Sales of Prosecco rose six percent in 2018 to 460 million bottles, of which 75 percent were exported.

Official UNESCO details:
N45 57 10.9 E12 13 34
Date of Inscription: 2019
Property : 20,334.2 ha
Buffer zone: 43,988.2 ha
Ref: 1571rev
Full description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1571/

Majestic Douro Valley produces some of the finest red and whites in the world

Majestic Douro Valley produces some of the finest red and whites in the world

Casa de Mateus on day trip in the Douro Valley on trip from Porto

Majestic Douro Valley produces some of the finest red and whites in the world

There is a dangerous beauty to Portugal’s Douro wine region.  With its treacherously steep slopes, extreme summer heart, perilous roads, and a wild river – why would wine growers consider growing grapes here?  Just take a sip of the red and white wines from this region and then you know why!

With three World Heritage Sites recognized by UNESCO, there is no reason not to visit Douro Valley. Home to the Douro River, the third largest river in the Iberian Peninsula, which runs 897 kilometers from Duruelo de la Sierra to Porto, Portugal.

I had the amazing opportunity to visit Douro wine region in March this year with other international wine journalists.  I found the scenery in the valley to be some of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen in a wine region. Not only because of the gravity of the steep slopes of the vineyards, but also the sheer beauty of the Douro River and the hills that fall to the water’s edge.

“The sole immeasurable evidence with which we can amaze the world.”

Miguel Torga (Portuguese poet)

I found the Alto Douro Wine Region to be a land of traditions where nature reigns in perfect harmony and farmers who shaped the valley into terraced vineyards supported with stone walls (socalos). Their persistent labors have transformed this vast slate-soiled region into a true agricultural and landscape monument. The vineyards are accessible by lots of winding roads and steep cliffs.

Wine grapes have been cultivated here for over 2,000. The Demarcated Douro Region was formed (by the Marquis of Pombal) in 1756, and at this time the region became more internationally recognized. It’s important to note that it was the first region in the world to be demarcated.  Even today the traditional harvest is done by hand and crushing the grapes by foot is still carried on, along with modern vinification methods that accompany these traditions.

Alto Douro Wine Region is stretched over 250,000 hectares in which 20% is used for wine production, with 9,000 wine-growers.

Quintas visited
(wine producing estates/winery or vineyard)

Adega Cooperativa de Vila Real
http://www.adegavilareal.com/pt/

The Adega is a cooperative with over 1,232 members and works with winemaker Rui Madera. It was named “up and coming wine producer” for Portugal by Wine Access magazine in 2010 and was awarded the best co-op winery of Portugal of 2013.“

We met with Nuno Ferreira Borges, Marketing and Export Manager, and his father Jaime Borges, retired director and grape grower.  They discussed what the co-op is currently doing and how they keep the quality high.

Their wines are made from grapes cultivated according to traditional techniques, with low mechanization levels and low yields/hectare, while maintaining Douro’s terroir.

Their commercial brands are: Adega de Vila Real, Cancellus, Cancelão and Terras De Alleu. 

Quinta de Nápoles – Niepoort
http://www.niepoort-vinhos.com/en/

Dirk Niepoort was the first to make high-quality unfortified wines in the Douro since1987.

Niepoort was founded in 1845 by Dutch merchants and at that time only produced Port wines.  This changed when 5th generation Dirk van der Niepoort took the realm.  He decided not only to make port but also wine.  Dirk is a true pioneer –  he insisted on making the region known for its wines first. He began with an experimental wine in 1991, and his first production white in 1996.

After a guided tasting with Dirk Niepoort we lunched on the terrace at Quinta de Nápoles winery, which hosted spectacular views.

My favorite wine was Redoma 2014

Tinta amarela 40 %; Touriga Franca 30%; Tinta roriz 20%; Rufete (Tinta Pinheira)10 %.

Tasting Notes:

Dark cherry, wild herbs, hints of raspberry and red currant; some mineral-salts; fine but gripping tannins –  deep, lengthy and layered.

Quinta da Casa Amarela
http://www.quinta-casa-amarela.com/en

Quinta da Casa Amarela is located on the left side of the Douro River, just opposite Régua. The Quinta has been owned by the same family since 1885 and today Laura Regueiro is sitting at the helm. The quinta is named after the main house yellow or ocher color (Amarela in Portuguese).

Quinta da Casa Amarela has 8 hectares with 45-50 year-old vineyards, mainly planted with Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Barroca, with smaller parcels of Malvasia Fina, Viozinho and Codega. They also practice sustainability. I learned that they had traditionally delivered their grapes to other port companies, but since 1994 started marketing their own Port and wines.

Casa de Mateus
http://www.casademateus.com/

This palace is famously depicted on bottles of Mateus rosé. Casa de Mateus is one of the best surviving examples of 18th-century baroque architecture in Portugal.

Its granite wings shelter a lichen-encrusted forecourt, dominated by an ornate stairway and guarded by rooftop statues. Surrounding the palace is a fantasy garden, with boxwood hedges, prim statues, and a fragrant cypress tunnel.

Inside, the library contains one of the first illustrated editions of Luís Vaz de Camões’ Os Lusíadas, Portugal’s important epic poem, while another room houses a collection of religious artifacts, including 36 relics brought from the Vatican in the 18th century: a bit of holy fingernail, a saintly set of eyeballs, and the inevitable piece of the true cross – each with the Vatican’s proof of authenticity.

The wine shop offers tastings of three locally produced wines for €4. I found especially interesting is the Alvarelhão, which is the same rosé originally bottled by Mateus in the 1940s.

C.A.R.M.
http://www.carm.pt/

C.A.R.M. has over 200 hectares of vineyards spread over various farms and planted at different altitudes, up to 550 meters. C.A.R.M. overlooks the valley with the Douro river in full view. The temperatures in the summer reach 45C. Antonio Ribeiro gives us a tour and shows us the olive trees, vineyards and almond trees. The soil in their vineyards is schist, and granite in some areas which is good for white wines.

In the production facilities, they have modern alternatives to the traditional lagars for the foot-stomping of the grapes.

During the visit, we meet Celso Madeira – who is not only a pioneer in the organic viticulture in the region but is also the first to have had the idea to remodel the hillsides with bulldozers in 1965.

My favorite wine: Carm CM Douro 2013, a 94+ points/Robert Parker

The back label adds 4130 bottles total (this one was No 124). 14 % alcohol

Fresh nose of black fruit and berries; nice balance with nuances of licorice and complex aromas of wood; firm tannins and smooth texture.

The Douro wine region has truly maintained their rural character and traditional roots with culture and religious customs and truly worth a visit to some of the historic quintas and to taste their wines!

I want personally thank Rita and Pedro Figueiredo for putting together this extraordinary tour!  #TeamDouro

The Region of Champagne Takes the Lead on Climate Change

tiffany 053At a time when Paris is hosting the COP 21 talks that could pave the way for an agreement on combating climate change, the Champagne Region is contributing to the international effort through its pioneering commitment to sustainable and responsible wine-growing.

Global warming in the region is a fact: temperatures have increased by close to 1.2°C in 30 years and the blossoming and grape harvest dates have moved forward by a fortnight. “The Champagne Region very quickly grasped that climate change was a priority issue and we were duty-bound to plan ahead”, explains Vincent Perrin, the director general of the Comité Champagne.
The whole Champagne Region began to get involved in the 1980s, implementing solutions to protect the environment (technical specifications, decision-making tools, advice and support).

In 2003, Champagne was the world’s first wine-growing region to calculate its carbon footprint and implement a carbon plan which enabled several focus areas to be selected (sustainable wine-growing, transport and freight, building energy efficiency, responsible procurement and fostering active involvement) and led to truly innovative solutions being developed, such as reducing the weight of Champagne bottles by 7%.

In a decade, the region has managed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 15% per bottle shipped, making it one of the few industries to have reduced its emissions in absolute terms.
All of the region’s professionnals are now involved in the initiative.

Moreover, UNESCO’s decision to include the Champagne Slopes, Houses and Cellars on its World Heritage List is a source of encouragement for the efforts made and demonstrates the industry’s ability to preserve its heritage.

“The Champagne houses and growers are more united than ever before around a sustainable wine-growing strategy. Promoting our wines means constantly innovating so that we can pass on our economic and environmental heritage to future generations”, conclude Pascal Férat and Jean-Marie Barillère.

Source: CIVC, France

UNESCO adds Champagne Slopes, Houses and Cellars to World Heritage List

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has decided to include the Champagne slopes, houses and cellars on its World Heritage List.

The 21 representatives of the state parties to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention unanimously voted in favor of including the Champagne slopes, houses and cellars on the World Heritage List in the Living Cultural Landscapes category. The committee members recognized their ‘Exceptional Universal Value’ and deemed that the protection and management conditions for the proposed property had been fulfilled.

The Association Paysages du Champagne spent eight years putting together and managing the area’s application. President Pierre Cheval said: “Inclusion on the list is a form of recognition but also an undertaking to the world’s nations, so we must ensure that we are worthy of it. We are duty bound to preserve and maintain this landscape, know-how and heritage so that we can pass them on unspoilt to future generations.

The application Milestones include:

2002: Included on France’s tentative list.

2008: The Association Paysages du Champagne was founded.

2009: First submission of the provisional Application to the French Properties Committee and appointment of a rapporteur to steer the Application process.

2010: The French Properties Committee approved the Exceptional Universal Value of the Application.

2011: The French Properties Committee approved the geographical area and comparative analysis.

2012: The French Properties Committee approved the management plan.

January 2014: The Application was selected by France.

Autumn 2014/Spring 2015: ICOMOS and IUCN international experts assess the Application.

Summer 2015: 39th session of the World Heritage Committee in Germany.

July 2015: The Committee approves the Application

 

The three distinct ensembles that have been recognized: the historic hillside vineyards between Hautvillers and Aÿ; the architecture of the Champagne houses on Saint-Nicaise Hill in Reims, and the Avenue de Champagne in Epernay..

The Champagne region can only welcome this global recognition, which in turn will increase in wine tourism.

Will France’s Champagne vineyards be added to UNESCO’s prestigious World Heritage List?

 

The candidacy has been six years in the making and producers will have to wait until July 2014 to hear the decision.

 

The volume of fake champagne sold on the market is said to equal the stock of the real French product. That’s 330 million bottles, according to Jean-Luc Barbier, the director of the Interprofessional Committee of Champagne Wine (CIVC).

 

The competition is particularly unfair since fake bubbly is produced without respecting any of the traditional local rules of Champagne. Fakes rarely cost more than seven Euros, while an authentic Champagne bottle costs between 18 and 200 Euros, and more for exceptional vintages.

 

Champagne is not the first wine-producing region seeking the protection of the UNESCO classification. Five sites are already registered in the World Heritage List: Saint-Emilion, France, the Upper Douro Valley, Portugal, Tokaj Coast, Hungary, Lavaux, Switzerland and Pico Island, Azores.