Canelli and the Underground Cathedrals #145


The capital of the Italian Spumante and Contratto

The Underground Cathedrals, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2014, are a real architectural masterpiece of Canelli, which is fairly considered to be the capital of the Italian Spumante. In these ancient cellars lying under the city, the history of the region and its winemaking is alive and breathing. Four famous wineries, Contratto, Bosca, Coppo and Gancia, are telling the story of this wineland – always in the present tense. 

Giuseppe Contratto founded his winery in 1867. Giorgio Rivetti, current owner of Contratto, is a huge fan of Champagne, dedicated to the cultivation of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which are used in the production of the Alta Langa DOCG. Contratto is the member of Alta Lange Consortium, as a benchmark for the entire denomination. The Contratto cellars here are rich in history, setting the scene for the long ageing of 1,5 million bottles of sparkling wines.

Bosca evokes amazing emotions

Since 1831, Bosca, a remarkable family winery which, for several generations, has been producing sparkling and still wines, has seen the uncorking of its wines as a way of sharing the enthusiasm, skills and audacity of Italian winemaking. A visit to the Bosca Underground Cathedrals is a unique experience. Beauty, magic, emotions and inspiration: this is what you will find here, accompanied by a glass of traditional Spumante – intense, elegant, with tiny bubbles. Traditional. In other words, eternal.

Coppo and Gancia telling the story of this wineland

The history of Coppo winery is inextricably bound with the wine history of Piedmont and the city of Canelli, known as one of the most important viticultural centers of Italy. The origin of the winery dates back to 1892. For over 120 years, the Coppo family has remained the sole owner of the cantine. Since the very beginning, they’ve been cultivating the estate vineyards and bottling their own wine under the name of Coppo, making it one of the oldest family-run wineries in Italy. At the end of the 18th century, here at Coppo the galleries and corridors known today as the Underground Cathedrals were excavated from the tuff stone under the earth. Because of their unique historical and architectural value, these underground cellars have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Passing through them, one may walk underneath the entire length of the hill, finally reaching the point where the sparkling wines rest on their lees. Here, at the end of the long lines of bottles, there’s an ancient wood and cast iron door leading into the garden of a magnificent Art Nouveau villa.

A journey over Gancia winery is a fascinating underground itinerary that traces the history of Italian sparkling wine through the winery’s archives. Gancia is a historic brand that holds the birthright of “made in Italy” bubbles. The underground cathedrals, historical cellars of Gancia, recognized as UNESCO’s World Heritage Site, are preserved in the basement of the city of Canelli. The underground cathedrals of Casa Gancia represent an incalculable historical heritage of architecture dedicated to oenology: they have been excavated in the past centuries in calcareous tuff, perfect natural thermal insulation able to maintain a constant temperature of 12-14 degrees, ideal for processing and refinement of great wines.

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