Champagne UNESCO Hillsides, Houses and cellars of Champagne
Located in the north-east of France, the hilly and peaceful region Champagne is commonly assimilated to a local product: the Champagne sparkling wines. In 2015, and in order to show how much the wine production has impacted the region, UNESCO listed the Hillsides, Houses and Cellars of Champagne as World Heritage sites. This international recognition put the stress on the historical relationship the inhabitants have developed with their territories.
THE PRESTIGIOUS HILLSIDES OF CHAMPAGNE
The present landscapes of Champagne are clearly the result of an interaction between a natural environment and a human community. Throughout the centuries, the chalky slopes of the area have been planted with vines. The great knowledge people acquired generation after generation allowed them to develop the vineyard and adapt some precise grape varieties to very specific plots. For natural reasons (the climate, the soils, the sun exposure…), some parcels are still planted with Pinot Noir whereas others are full of Pinot Meunier or Chardonnay. The typical picture of Champagne always includes the vineyards but also the charming villages that are spread all over the region. Despite severe destructions during the First World War, most of these little villages (like Hautvillers, Aÿ or Mareuil Sur-Aÿ) are well preserved and they are the present testimony of a four-century sparkling wine production.
THE MAISONS: THE SHOWCASE OF THE INIMITABLE CHAMPAGNE WINES
Since the method of producing sparkling wine was born, the Champagne region has been perpetuating the tradition. The numerous Maisons (Houses) of Champagne have even developed winegrowing and winemaking techniques in order to improve the quality of their wines. Due to their history, and because of the rich architecture of their buildings, these Houses are part of the local heritage. Many of them, like Moët & Chandon, surely made the reputation of the Champagne wines and eventually converted this alcoholic beverage into a symbol of festiveness. The Avenue de Champagne, in a must-see in the town of Epernay. Many Maisons established their headquarters along this one-kilometer long street.
THE CELLARS: THE HIDDEN SIDE OF CHAMPAGNE
The patrimony of Champagne is not only limited to the vineyards and the prestigious buildings we can see from the ground. In fact, the underground cellars are also part of the outstanding value of the region. These cellars were actually dug hundreds of years ago and were first used as quarries. The underground galleries are nowadays used by the winemakers to produce their wines. There is no doubt that the Champagne wines are more than just sparkling wines: they are indeed the result of a long-term interaction between human beings and a specific territory. A Champagne wine is definitely a -tasty- cultural product!