`Territorio Bobal´….Pursuing UNESCO´s World Heritage Status.

Bobal Unesco

Back in 2010 I originally wrote about the discovery of what potentially could be the oldest Bodega on the Iberian Peninsular following it up in June 2011 with a report of a personal visit to the site at Las Pilillas, near Venta del Moro in the heart of DO Utiel-Requena.  http://wp.me/p16pqB-g1

At that point the authorities were very keen to attain World Heritage status for the site which, following recent further excavation had been shown to be a bodega complex and not just an Iberian period village with a wine-pressing and making facility. Work had then been done which showed that the site was a dedicated bodega working together with other local sites where terracotta amphorae were made and the local hilltop village where the population had its residential centre.

Since then further work of an investigative and interpretative nature has been undertaken. This has shown through modern scientific techniques that the bodega clearly was in operation seven centuries before Christ walked the earth and now interpretation in particular has shown that the output from the site was such that it was not just the oldest bodega on the Iberian peninsular. In fact it turns out that the bodega was the first `commercial´  bodega.

Moreover whilst it is not clear when production stopped it is evident that it was in production for a very long time and more importantly was the beginning of a continuous  period of winemaking in the area which continues to this very day.

The original claim for Heritage status passed its first stage, with the support of  CRDO Utiel-Requena, back in 1998 and has undergone various revisions since first making it onto the list for consideration by UNESCO. Each of my previous posts reflects the position as it then was.

Las Pilillas Archeological Site.

Las Pilillas Archeological Site.

Back in July the CRDO held one of its regular seminars which form training/education  days for local growers and wine makers affiliated to  the body at which Carmen Perez, Director of the Valencian Institute for the Restoration of Cultural Property ( IVCR) ; Asunción Martinez , Requena´s Municipal Architect and Cruz Lopez who is responsible to the County Employment and Development body had given those attending a detailed update on the historical findings and the plans to launch the Territorio Bobal logo and  accompanying video which were to form the basis of the formal re-launch of the process announced at the press conference on the 1st October .

Prior to the press conference the relevant authorities and the mayors of the 9 towns which make the county ( Comarca) of Utiel-Requena had met to lend their support to the launch and endorse the contents of the claim to UNESCO.

At the Press Conference.

At the Press Conference.

This is based on the requirements of UNESCO which require claimants to show the continuous activity has had a lasting, even permanent influence on the area. The fact that 27 centuries of winemaking, shaping the geography, forming the economic and social background which today constitutes a continuing human and cultural entity which is undoubtedly Utiel-Requena today seems impossible to challenge!

The point about the bodega influencing other activity in the area is to be found in the historical sites of Las Casillas del Cura, Los Villares and El Molon which are close to three of the towns which make up Territorio Bobal. The logo for the launch and the initiative is a bunch of nine grapes each representing one of the towns.

There is of course more historical evidence than archeological sites. Written records exist showing that viticulture has been practised throughout this period and further work is being undertaken to discover more of these. It is the precise nature of the evidence which catapults the claim through its  `Universal and Exceptional Character´ onto UNESCO´s list.

Press Brief

Press Brief

Of course throughout much of the period the cultivation of the vine has been based around one variety, Bobal which makes up  about 80% of the area planted, is Spain’s second most planted variety after Airen and is the variety which denotes what is becoming a more widely recognised and valued variety producing quality wines which are gaining a reputation outside Spain. It is mentioned in books dating back to 1457-62 `L ´Spill o Libre de les Dones´ and Simon de Rojas Clemente´s work.

The Press launch itself brought together the `Mancomunidad del Interior Terra del Vino, the CRDO , IVCR,  the National committee for the International council of Historical and artistic sites ( ICOMOS España). The 9 towns were represented by Gerardo Gomez, Mayor of Camporrobles and the Culture Department of the Valencian Autonomous Government by Marta Alonso Rodriguez.

The press at work.

The press at work.

And all of the organisations are important in their own way. The project has always had is initiation and major support from within Utiel-Requena and the CRDO in particular. Whilst each of the regional authorities has its own interests and responsibility the fact is that in Spain ultimately the claim must first have the support of the Valencian Government who will finally present the claim to the National Government who will submit it in its final form to UNESCO.

Introducing the re-launch Marta Rodriguez gave a precise update on the current state of the claim and the next steps to push it forward to the next stage.

Maria Rosa Suarez-Inclan Ducassi of ICOMOS España explained the work that had already been done between the Valencian Government and its central counterpart , the latter having provided advice on presentation etc to ensure the best possible case was submitted to be forwarded to UNESCO. She said `that the claim was in good hands, had to undergo several stages each of which brought a lot of work but that it was well focused´.

The Briefing Team

The Briefing Team

Finally Carmen Perez and Gerardo Gomez who had earlier briefed the other mayors and the CRDO on progress spoke of the impulse the relaunch would put behind the continuing candidacy, now seen as the property of the whole region.

Certainly there is a claim here which despite the length of its candidacy so far nonetheless has considerably  more than a spark of support for its success and we will continue reporting on developments and new historical evidence as they emerge. If and when the claim succeeds  this will be a prestigious  boost to the area and has the full support of Ricardo´s blog and VÍ vid.  In the meantime organisations and individuals can express their support for and sponsorship of the initiative by contacting the following sites.













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