Valpolicella to Get UNESCO Recognition for Apassimento?

Valpolicella wants to have the grape drying process included in Unesco's intangible cultural heritage.

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Drying process (Photo: Consorzio Tutela dei Vini Valpolicella)
Drying process (Photo: Consorzio Tutela dei Vini Valpolicella)

Another stage on the path to cultural heritage recognition for Appassimento has been completed: After several years of effort at the national level, the consortium responsible - supported by local authorities and producers - has decided to prepare an official application.

The process involves drying the harvested grapes to concentrate the juice before processing them into wine. The method has been used in the Valpolicella area for an estimated 1,500 years to produce Amarone and Recioto wines and should not be confused with the method often called "appassite", is used in other regions such as Puglia.

Different methods

Amarone:

The grape bunches are left to dry for up to 4 months after harvest in special drying halls, until they are shrivelled like raisins, highly concentrated in sugars and fruit flavours. They are then crushed and fermented until the wine is semi- to fully dry, with a minimum alcohol level of 14%

Recioto:

Grape bunches are dried on straw mats, bamboo racks or hung from rafters until dried and dehydrated. They are then fermented to a sweet wine with a residual sugar level of 50g/l or more and minimum alcohol level of 12%

Appassite:

This involves drying the grapes on the vine, similar to the principle of Trockenbeerenauslese in Germany.

The application process for the Unesco intangible cultural heritage list is a multi-step process. First, an application dossier is prepared at the national level and submitted to the responsible ministry. If this gives a positive opinion, the dossier is forwarded to the Italian Unesco Commission. It decides whether to send the application on to Paris. There, the dossier is evaluated by international experts and then submitted to a political body.

If both bodies give the green light, inclusion in the list is possible. To date, 631 traditions from 140 countries have been recognized as cultural heritage on Unesco's list.

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