Champagne and Burgundy join UNESCO list
Producers in Champagne and Burgundy are celebrating the addition of their vineyards and cellars to the UNESCO world heritage list.
A meeting over the weekend of the global organisation, which recognises and protects sites of particular historical, geographical and cultural significance, saw Burgundy’s Côte d’Or and Champagne win recognition after missing out two years ago.
For Champagne, the listing covers the vineyards around Hautvilliers, Aÿ and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, as well as Sainte-Nicaise Hill in Reims and the Avenue de Champagne and Fort Chabrol in Epernay. Together these components encompass the region’s key vineyard sites, its network of underground cellars and the houses who manage Champagne’s production and sales.
Confirming the approval of Champagne by its committee, UNESCO set out the elements included under this listing as bearing “clear testimony to the development of a very specialized artisan activity that has become an agro-industrial enterprise.”
For Burgundy, the listing covers the region’s 1,247 “climats”, its characteristic patchwork of delimited vineyard parcels that line the slopes of the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune. Also recognised are the villages and town of Beaune, which play a central role in the production and commercialisation of these wines, as well as the historic centre of Dijon, which, UNESCO outlined, embodies the political regulatory impetus that gave birth to the climats system.”
Overall, explained the committee, “The site is an outstanding example of grape cultivation and wine production developed since the High Middle Ages.”
Aubert de Villaine, co-owner of Domaine de la Romanée Conti and a major voice in the region’s campaign for inclusion, paid tribute to all those who had helped with the application but also the previous generations who carved out Burgundy’s distinct identity.
“This inscription is also a recognition of the work of generations, of the Cistercian monks, Dukes of Burgundy, men and women, winegrowers – all of whom have, throughout the centuries, painstakingly shaped the vineyards of Burgundy in their determined quest for excellence,” he remarked.
“It is a source of great pride for us that the climats of Burgundy have become a World Heritage Site for humanity, and from now on, this confirms our commitment to the community of nations.”
Pierre Cheval, president of the Association Paysages du Champagne, which had spent eight years co-ordinating the Champagne region’s application, welcomed the news of its success and highlighted the importance of such a move.
“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,” he commented. “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. We have a date with history, our very own history!”
Three other sites also won approval at the same committee meeting: the Christiansfeld Moravian church settlement and the Par Force hunting landscape in North Zealand, both in Denmark; and the Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens cultural landscape in Turkey.
As a result of these decisions, all five sites join famous landmarks such as the Great Barrier Reef and Pyramids of Giza among the places recognised as important, unique aspects of the world’s heritage. Other wine regions already on the list include Piedmont, which was added last year, the Mosel in Germany, Tokaj in Hungary and the Wachau in Austria.