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Unesco puts Champagne, Burgundy wine regions on world heritage list
French ministers and winemakers were popping the champagne corks this weekend after the UN's cultural arm, Unesco, declared the sparkling wine region part of the world's heritage, along with Burgundy, producer of prestigious red and white grand crus.
Meeting in the German city of Bonn, Unesco's World Heritage Committee declared Champagne's "hills, houses and cellars" a world heritage site, a status that was also conferred on Burgundy's climats, vineyard parcels on the slopes of the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune south of the city of Dijon that are prized for their soil and exposure to climate.
The Avenue de Champagne in the village of Epernay, home to some of the grandest sparkling wine producers and their well-stocked cellars, was part of a "testimony to the development of a very specialised artisan activity that has become an agro-industrial enterprise", the committee declared.
It also mentioned Hautvilliers, in whose abbey legend has it the monk Dom Pérignon invented the double fermentation method that puts the bubbles in bubbly.
Burgundy's vineyards, which produce some of the world's most famous - and expensive - wines, such as Romanée-Conti, Vosne-Romanée and Montrachet, is "an outstanding example of grape cultivation and wine production developed since the High Middle Ages", the committee said, and Dijon was hailed for its political and economic boosting of the climat system.
The two regions already have some of the most expensive agricultural land in Europe.
If past experience is anything to go by, they can expect rising land prices and a boost in tourism of up to 20 per cent.
They are also now eligible for financial assistance towards preservation.
The decision "marks international recognition of these regions' exceptional heritage", President François Hollande said in a statement.
Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius, whose brief includes tourism, and Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin also welcomed the move.
France now has 41 world heritage sites.
The Unesco committee placed a number of other sites around the world on the list.