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Burgundy UNESCO world heritage plan suffers setback

High level advisers to UNESCO have told Burgundy winemakers to improve their pitch to gain world heritage status for the region's vineyard climats, but campaigners remain confident of success and Champagne is still on-track to secure its own place on the list.

Domaine de la Romanee-Conti’s Aubert de Villaine remains confident.

Burgundy has six weeks to improve its dossier before a final decision will be taken by the 39th session of the UNESCO World Heritage committee in Bonn, Germany.

Experts from the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) praised the quality of Burgundy’s application in a report to UNESCO earlier this month, but they said the region’s campaign leaders – and France’s ambassador to UNESCO – should offer further explanation.

Aubert de Villaine, of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (DRC), and co-president of Burgundy’s world heritage committee along with Guillaume d’Angerville, described the requested changes as ‘minor’.

France’s government backed both Burgundy and Champagne at the start of 2014.

There appeared to be no improvements necessary for Champagne cellars and vineyards; experts agreed that the region’s application warranted a place on the World Heritage list, although a final decision will not be made before the Bonn meeting in early July.

‘These specifications are normal,’ said de Villaine.’Our project is ambitious and complex. We see climats as a whole, as a cultural project not just as monuments or buildings, which might be easier to gain heritage status. Climats are alive and culture at their very foundation’.

‘We will answer the questions raised and improve the dossier in collaboration with French UNESCO ambassador, Philippe Lalliot, and the French government,’ de Villaine told Decanter.com. ‘I’m very confident.’.

In Champagne, there was rising expectation of a good result in Bonn. Pierre Cheval, president of the Champagne UNESCO campaign, told Decanter.com ‘This gives great satisfaction to our team, our supporters and all the cities of Champagne’.

Updated 22/05/2015: This article was updated to add extra comments from Aubert de Villaine, who clarified that the improvements requested by ICOMOS experts were ‘minor’ in nature, and did not encompass the whole report.

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Written by Yohan Castaing

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