Canelli Celebrates its Underground Cathedrals and UNESCO-recognized viticultural landscapes
- Written by Gabriele Pieroni
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One month after the official inclusion of the Langhe-Roero and Monferrato landscape on the World Heritage List, Canelli is ready to host the first official UNESCO event in its famed Underground Cathedrals with aperitivo and free guided visits open to the public.
On Friday, August 1, the subterranean wine cellars known as “Underground Cathedrals” will open their doors to the public in an event dedicated to the celebration of these Piemontese viticultural landscapes and their own recognition within the UNESCO Site.
The spumante wineries Bosca, Contratto, Coppo and Gancia will open their doors to the public to offer free guided visits to their cellars and aperitivo with music. Each winery will serve two dishes: an aperitivo paired with the winery’s wines and a series of hot dishes prepared using local ingredients to serve some excellent Piemontese cuisine. Each Underground Catherdral will also host a Regional Wine Shop (Enoteca) located within the new UNESCO territory, which will offer wine tastings of their institutional label:
- Enoteca of Barbaresco at the Bosca Winery
- Enoteca of Monferrato at the Coppo Winery
- Enoteca of Grinzane Cavour at the Contratto Winery
- Enoteca of Barolo at the Gancia Winery.
In the same location, in collaboration with the Association of Producers of Nizza (Associazione Produttori del Nizza) and the Association of Moscato Producers of Canelli (Associazione Produttori Moscato di Canelli), the Regional Enotecas of Canelli and Nizza Monferrato will present two of their wines for tasting. The wines are symbolic of their respective territories: Moscato d'Asti DOCG “Canelli” and Barbera d'Asti DOCG Superiore “Nizza.” The wines will be paired with traditional foods from the territory: a delicious chickpea farinata prepared by the ProLoco Association of Nizza, and baked goods and desserts by the pastry chefs of Canelli. In addition, guests may want to visit the MUSA (Multimedia Museum of Southern Asti), which will remain open for the occasion.
The choice of the Underground Cathedrals as the seat for this first UNESCO-dedicated event was not by accident. On the contrary, the idea of its candidature as a UNESCO World Heritage Site began all of ten years ago in Canelli. In fact, the original idea for nominating a Site was concentrated solely on the Underground Cathedrals and their centuries-old history, but the project later expanded to include the viticultural landscapes of all the Langhe-Roero and Monferrato.
The underground cathedrals of Canelli are a unique expression of traditional oenology in the long history of Piemontese viticulture. Excavated by hand beginning in the 16th century, the cathedrals are a concrete dedication to the wines that stand as symbol for this region: Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti. The calcareous tuff over which Canelli was built is actually the perfect natural thermal insulation, able to maintain a constant temperature of 12-14 degrees C (54 -57 degrees F), ideal for aging great wines. The construction expanded in the 19th century when the high quality of Canelli wines was affirmed on a global scale after casks were shipped abroad throughout Europe and overseas. Covered in bricks, the casks and pupitres (wine racks) line the long tunnels and fill large rooms with vaults and pillars, reaching a depth of 30 m (98 ft) for a total extension of more than 18 km (11 mi). There was no plan to grow these cellars to such cavernous dimensions, but they were enlarged with pickaxes and chisels little by little as the wineries grew larger.
It is an impressive and magnificent subterranean labyrinth without equal, which the UNESCO World Heritage title recognizes in particular within the Core Zone of Asti Spumante. Notwithstanding the numerous wineries carved out underneath the city of Canelli, only the historical wineries of Gancia, Bosca, Contratto, and Coppo proudly bear the banner of “Underground Cathedral.” Not only are they exceptionally vast and beautiful, but they hold a cultural and historical importance with which they witnessed the story of Piemontese wines evolve over the ages.
Official inauguration of the Langhe-Roero and Monferrato and the Underground Cathedrals in the courtyard of the tourist office of Canelli, via G.B. Giuliani 29.
The speakers will be Marco Gabusi, mayor of Canelli, Carlin Petrini, founder of Slow Food, Gianfranco Comaschi and Annalisa Conti, president and vice president of the Association for the Patrimony of Viticultural Landscapes of the Langhe-Roero and Monferrato, and Antonella Parigi, the new assessor of Culture and Tourism of the Piemonte Region.
Free guided visits and aperitivo (€5-7, plus hot dishes and desserts at €5) with music in the wineries. The excellent Piemontese food will be prepared using high-quality, local ingredients.
Riserva del Nonno Metodo Classico paired with lightly salted Tonda Gentile Hazelnuts of the Langhe (€5 a glass)
Asti Spumante paired with sugared Tonda Gentile Hazelnuts of te Langhe (€5 a glass).
Plate of the Cantina: Succulent spinach flan with cream of Raschera DOP (€5 a plate)
The Enoteca of Barbaresco will host glasses of their institutional label of Barbaresco (€5 a glass).
Musical entertainment: Amemanera with Marco Soria and Marica Canavese.
Aperitivo with spumante Luigi Coppo paired with the famous farinata “Tantì” (€5 a glass)
Selection of Coppo wines starting at €5 a glass with food pairings
Plate of the Cantian: Red Mombarcaro potato gnocchi with Castelmagno cheese from Ristorante San Marco, or raw milk goat’s cheese from La Vetriata (€5 a plate).
Musical entertainment: Dj Roby Scaglione Soulful & Funk
The Enoteca del Monferrato will represent the Core Zone “Monferrato of the Infernot.”
Glass of Extra Brut Millesimato 2010 or Moscato Bricco Quaglia by La Spinetta paired with friciule, cooked salami, and pizza (€5 a glass).
Glass of Blanc de Blanc 2010, For England Pas Dosè 2009 and For England Rosè 2009 (€7 a glass with the same food pairing)
Cocktails with a base of Contratto Vermouth hand crafted by Lorenzo Roveta of Caffè Roma in Canelli (€5 a glass)
Plate of the Cantina: Agnolotti del plin; plate with roasted porchetta; sushi in collaboration with “I Love Sushi” of Alba (€5 a plate)
The winery will host the Enoteca of Grinzane Cavour
Musical entertainment: Radio Valle Belbo
Aperitivo in the Enoteca Gancia: Asti DOCG Gancia 1850 or Carlo Gancia Metodo Classico Brut paired with soft amaretto of Pasticceria Bosca (€5 a glass)
Selection of wines from Tenute dei Vallarino: La Ladra Barbera d’Asti DOCG Superiore, Pepero Sauvignon Monferrato Bianco DOC (€4 a glass)
Plate of the Cantina: Tris of dessert with Pan Canej, the celebrated hazelnut cake of Canelli, Semifreddo al Moscato and Stisse, hazelnut shortbread served by Pasticceria Bosca of Canelli (€5 a plate)
Musical entertainment: Live Music/Dj Set.
The Regional Enoteca of Barolo and the stand “Asti Hour” will offer cocktails with a base of Asti DOCG and fruit in collaboration with the Consorzio di Tutela dell’Asti Docg.
Photo by warrenski, Creative Commons. License
Canelli e Moscato
Read our Focus article on the city of Canelli, and discover more about the famous wines of the zone with il nostro Focus su Canelli e del Moscato, il lato dolce di Piemonte.
Official inauguration held in the courtyard of Canelli's tourism office at 6:30 pm in Via G.B. Giuliani 29, Canelli.
Translated by Diana Zahuranec
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