UNESCO Victory, but…


Everyone is talking about it, Piedmontese and non-Piedmontese. I heard the news from the Internet on a beach in Liguria and I instinctively began to feel proud, and I told the closest people around me: the Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont is a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

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I’m exactly not sure what that means, but the news had the tone of a great victory and it probably is. The first thing that jumped to mind is that Piedmont will have more visibility in the future and as a consequence, tourism will grow. After this feeling of parochial pride, I checked some websites and social media sites and, as usual, the politicians had engaged in the only sport in which they are really great: jumping on the bandwagon. Don’t worry. I’m not here to start the same boorish debate on politicians, because despite everything, being the 50th Italian UNESCO site is definitely and unquestioningly positive. It is also true that more than half of Italy deserves it. Our peninsula is so beautiful and unique that it should have a thousand such sites.

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But we’re the winners today and over the next few days, while the newspaper articles and websites exalt this news, I’ll keep my feet on the ground. We have achieved this result thanks to, first of all, Barolo and its producers, second to the high quality restoration of the area, and finally the rest is a consequence, as I have always said, of the fact that wine producers are the motor of this area and they should count for more politically. Why am I muffling the enthusiasm? Because now we have the eyes of the world upon us, because we can always create less blunders and because we expect awareness from leadership without it seeming arrogant. For the last few years I’ve thought that our area has to be the example, without continually bragging with only the word Barolo. It’s not enough anymore. We’re part of UNESCO? Alright, then let’s finish with using desiccant herbicides in the vineyards. Let’s abolish them! This spring the entire ALBA-BAROLO highway was chemically weeded, a chemical yellowing that welcomed hundreds of tourists who came to our area. Was I the only one to notice? Let’s stop with the treatments delivered by helicopter and maybe raise the bar and make the entire Vineyard UNESCO site organic. There will be a lot of beautiful speeches and self-congratulations in the next few days, so I’m here to balance them out, not for an unhealthy desire for debate, but simply because I care a lot about our territory (incidentally one of the most wasted and misused words for the last ten years).

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I’ve taken the liberty of contributing some ideas which concern the sector I compete in, but the ideas can also involve the failing construction sector. It’s an opportunity to make better homes, accompanied by intelligent regulatory plans and respectful to esthetics as well as energy efficiency.

There’s another thing which I’d like to strongly endorse: if it’s true what I said, that wine contributes to the eyes of the world upon our area, I believe that this product does not have the respect that it deserves in our own restaurants. The average venue in the area is, without a doubt, of high level if we talk about food, but I cannot say the same thing about how wine is described and presented. There are few restaurants with a professional sommelier, few owners who are passionate about wine, few ventures of single restaurants which involve producers and related clients. When we go to present our wines abroad, we always compare ourselves to professionals. Here wine professionals in the food service are scarce. This is a problem which everyone knows, but no one talks about. The tourists are happy all the same. They buy they eat they pay, narcotized by the beauty of our territory. Because of this we’re not stimulated to grow professionally. Petrini says that now we need to think about culture, and I completely agree.

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Let’s celebrate and enjoy this moment. We have to be proud of being from Piedmont, Alba, Asti, Roero, Canelli etc etc… but let us remember that starting tomorrow we have to be more responsible, a sentiment which is becoming more difficult to find in everyday life.

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