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The vineyards of Mylopotamos, on Mount Athos

Convents and Abbey.

Near one of the oldest monastic settlements of Mount Athos (autonomous republic of Greece governed by Orthodox monks), wine grapes have been cultivated in the Mylopotamos vineyards for over a thousand years. A place full of spirituality, inhabited by 1500 monks who animate monasteries and hermitages rich in icons, altarpieces, frescoes, manuscripts and rare miniatures. According to tradition, Mary and St. John arrived here after the resurrection of Christ. Father Epifanio’s painstaking work intervened in 1890 to save these centuries-old plants from abandonment, which today produces organic red, white, rosé and dessert wines using biodynamic methods.

The mountain of Reims

Convents and Abbey.

The Mountain of Reims (also called the mountainous island) is one of the five areas that composes the Champagne, one of the most famous wine-growing areas of France, famous above all for the production of the homonymous wine, which is exported to all over the world. In the valleys with sunny slopes and dedicated to sheep grazing, clayey and undulating land have housed vineyards since the times of the Romans. In the XII century arose many great abbeys there - including those of St-Basles, Epernay, Hautvillers and Avernay - which planted vineyards in ecclesial properties. The cultivation in the vine had had such a great development that in the IX century a distinction between the wines of the Marne and those of the Montagne de Reims was introduced. In 816 the coronation of Charlemagne’s son, Luigi, contributed to the diffusion of the fame of Champagne wine among the aristocrats in France.

That of Philip VI, in 1328, led the court and the inhabitants of Reims to drink about 300 barrels of wine of the Coteaux Champenois. In the abbey of St-Basles, near Verzy, the Champagne wine was served during the festivities that ended the religious processions of the holidays. San Remigio, Bishop of Reims for 74 years until his death in 530, mentions the local vineyards in his will. Afterwards, the fame of these wines continued to flourish thanks to the commercial exchanges, but only at the end of the XVII century the young Benedictine monk, Dom Pérignon, appointed cellar master of the abbey of Hautvillers, succeeded in obtaining that natural fermentation during which the liquid foamed maintaining the clarity and, thanks to the “cuvée”, that is the use of grapes of different vines, obtained a rich bouquet.

Solved the problem of containers with strong bottles resistant to wine pressure and to their closure with cork stoppers tied by metal cages (instead of the wooden stopper and the cloth soaked in oil previously used), from the wine cellars of Reims and Épernay more and more bottles began to spread out, and also the Napoleonic campaigns contributed to its diffusion in Europe. The wine cellars, generally dug into clay and very large, can be visited.

Jurisdiction of Saint-Émilion, villages and ancient vineyards

Jurisdiction of Saint-Émilion, villages and ancient vineyards

The Saint-Émilion Jurisdiction is an outstanding example of historical vineyards that have survived andhave been intact and in useup to now. Even today the landscape, embellished with historical monuments both in the cities and in the smaller towns, is entirely dedicated to wine. In 1999 the Old Jurisdiction of Saint-Émilion - which includes has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Viticulture was introduced by the Romans in the fertile region of Aquitaine (the “land of water” of the Roman empire) and later intensified in the Middle Ages. Here the glance of the Atlantic coast alternates with that of the Pyrenean peaks and with the harmony of the valleys of the Dordogne and the Garonne, the two great rivers that can be partially covered on comfortable boats. Added to this are the prehistoric caves, lush hills covered with woods and endless vine carpets, castles perched on the ridges of the mountains, ancient villages and historic centers of exceptional interest, built in the luminous white stone of Quercy.

Since the XI century, thanks to its fortunate placement along the route of pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela, many churches, monasteries and shelters have been built here. The Jurade was established in 1199, during the period of the British government, by King John Without Earth, in exchange for some privileges on the territory.

The area, located in the north-east quarter of the Gironde, on the slopes that dominate the valley crossed by the river Dordogne, is an important wine area of the Bordeaux area. The vineyards benefit from a particular microclimate and a soil of unique quality. Slopes, terraces, plateaus alternate over a total area of 5400 hectares with a total production of about 250000 hectoliters. The diversity of “terroirs” - composed of rock fragments, sand, gravel, clay and silt - goes well with well-defined vines (especially Merlot and then Cabernet, in the two types Franc and Sauvignon) giving life to theSaint-Emilion and Saint- Emilion Grand Cru AOC.

Must see attractions: Saint-Emilion, a medieval city with a monolithic and Romanesque church, the paintings of the Trinity chapel and the secrets of the catacombs. There is also the underground Museum of the Pottery, in the quarry whose stones were used in the XII and XIIIn centuries to build the city walls, and the Ecomuseo del Libournais, in the village of Montagne, to discover the civilization of the vine and wine of the territory.

Info: www.saint-emilion-tourisme.com/…/STEMILION_PRINT_POCKET_2010_IT.pdf

News: Decima Edizione del “Festival du Court-Métrage en Lussacais” (www.libourne-tourisme.com, aprile 2010)

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