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Barolo vineyards get UNESCO World Heritage status

Vineyards used to produce Barolo and Barbaresco DOCG wines in Italy's Piedmont region have been granted UNESCO World Heritage status.

Image credit: Consortium for Barolo and Barbaresco

The World Heritage Committee of the United Nations body, meeting in Doha this week, added the ‘vineyard landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero and Monferrato’ to its elite group of cultural and natural sites and practices.

The listing includes the towns of Barolo, Castiglione Falletto Grinzane Cavour, La Morra, Monforte d’Alba, Novello and Serralunga d’Alba in the Barolo DOCG, as well as Barbaresco and Neive in the Barbaresco DOCG.

There are now 1,007 sites on UNESCO‘s list and Piedmont vineyards now join Bordeaux’s Saint Emilion and traditional Georgian winemaking methods in representing wine.

‘It’s about time,’ said David Berry Green, Italian wine buyer for Berry Bros & Rudd and who lives in Piedmont. He described the Langhe as the ‘world’s last undiscovered fine wine region’.

He told Decanter.com, ‘Importantly, this should encourage producers to take responsibility for their immediate environment, persuading them to adapt more environmentally friendly viticultural practices, indeed to aim for organic status. A stop to the still widespread use of herbicide would be an obvious start.’

In its submission for Piedmont, Italy’s government said, ‘Vine pollen has been found in the area dating from the 5th Century BC’. It added that Piedmont was seen as one of the best vine growing areas in Italy during the Roman Empire.

Pietro Ratti, president of the local Consortium for Barolo and Barbaresco, said the listing gives ‘proper recognition’ to winemakers who have preserved the region’s landscape and respected its traditions.

Piedmont’s listing bodes well for both Champagne and Burgundy, which were earlier this year proposed for World Heritage status by the French government. A decision is expected in 2015.

Written by Chris Mercer

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