The Wineyard Landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero and Monferrato

The Wineyard Landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero and Monferrato.
50th Italian World Heritage Site
The first italian Vineyard cultural landscape

Dramatic views, delightful houses scattered on a hill that the succession of the seasons fondles bringing out the colours, the tastes, the history. In a dominant position, at the top of the village, a 1761 church with its great quality frescoes and what remains of the Castle, witness and actor of the wars that have plagued the Monferrato in '600: this is Ottiglio. A Cluster of houses following the curvature of the hill, making a circle shape around the central nucleus along the narrow and steep streets which climb up on top, facing outwards and looking at the magnificent hilly landscape. Then there's Moleto, the most beautiful village corner, ancient settlement dating from around the year One Thousand, with the mysterious Caves of Saracens, where for many years the locals spent their spare moments digging in search of the alleged Treasure of the Saracens. Treasure that no one has ever found it maybe because it is protected, as the legend goes, by the sorceress Alcina who in this context full of mysteries, light and shadow, it is said to appear again in the Valley during certain times of the year.

We are in Monferrato, the land that coincides today with the territory in the provinces of Alessandria and Asti but which previously extended to include Alba, Langhe, Basso Canavese, Oltrepò Vercellese and the border with Liguria. A territory proving in its long and rich history being a composite and changeable entity that rather than by territorial identity, lacking certain natural geographical boundaries, is characterized by the complex consolidation of a historical and cultural identity of the lands subject to the jurisdiction of the Marquisate first and Duchy then, of the Aleramici, the Paleologi, the Gonzaga respectively, and at the end of the Princedom incorporated into the Savoy’s Piedmont.

Monferrato of the Infernot

Among the countless historical, artistic , landscaping and cultural reasons for a Monferrato visit, one aspect in particular, that of vine and wine, characterizes its own history making it one of the best wine-growing areas, rich in traditions and specific nature, not only of Piedmont but of Italy’s wine world too . Monferrato and the wine have quite a lot in common, It suffices to mention the Barbera and Moscato D'Asti, vine and wine varieties that are the region’s flag , or the winemaker Federico Martinotti, Director of the Experimental Institute for Enology of Asti, inventor of the method of fermentation in autoclave, subsequently patented by French Eugène Charmat, that is the soul of the "spumante" wine, or again Senator Paolo Desana born in Casale Monferrato and widely regarded as the "father of DOC", having been the first signatory and substantial proponent in the Senate of the law, later history, establishing in Italy of the Denominazione di Origine dei Vini (PDO, Protected Designation of Origin).

The viticulture is a definite "value" of the territory, which has led recently to a particularly important recognition awarded by UNESCO: since 2014 in fact Langhe, Roero and Monferrato make up the 50th Italian presence in UNESCO World Heritage list. The award rationale recognizes the value of the "Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont" and particularly with regard to "the Monferrato of infernot" , core conservation area, the motivation reads”...infernot are dug in a peculiar geological formation present only in the Basso Monferrato … used for storage of bottles, are true works of art related to the how to do popular knowledge …”. Certainly a uniqueness of Monferrato winegrowing and winemaking tradition and history, Infernot are very special wine-vault caves, only found in Basso Monferrato, whose key feature is to maintain its temperature (12-14 C° degrees) regardless of the outside and season.