For me, the invention of champagne ranks alongside that of the wheel, the combustion engine and the telephone. It has helped to create the world we know today. Let’s hope the judges at Unesco think so too.
Next year they will rule on whether the Champagne area of north-eastern France should become officially classed as a world heritage site.
Success would be a coup for les champenois. They first tried for Unesco recognition last year but were thwarted by the French government, which refused to back their bid. Earlier this year, however, officials in Paris relented.
Only a relatively small part of Champagne, stretching along the southern slopes of the Montagne de Reims, from Cumières (pictured) to Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, is included in the bid. Épernay and its Avenue de Champagne, though associated in the public’s mind with champagne, lies just south of the area seeking world heritage status.
Champagne would join the existing 39 accredited sites in France. Of those, only Saint-Émilion has a connection with wine making.
Recognition could boost tourism in the region, which could help to swell the local coffers and give the champagne houses further cause for celebration.
Like many a champagne maker, I’ll drink to that.