Prosecco appointed UNESCO World Heritage status

Prosecco UNESCO
Valdobbiadene vineyards

The status was awarded for the landscape ‘characterised by ‘hogback’ hills, ciglioni – small plots of vines on narrow grassy terraces – forests, small villages and farmland,’ according to UNESCO.

‘For centuries, this rugged terrain has been shaped and adapted by man.’

In particular, the training of vines since the 17th century has helped contribute to the unique aesthetics of the landscape.

Other new UNESCO sites added include 20th century architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright in the USA, and Risco Caido and the Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria in Spain.

Gaining UNESCO status

The campaign to nominate Prosecco started in 2008, and Italy’s National Commission for UNESCO officially gave its backing in January 2017. Application included submitting a 1,300-page dossier.

Italy has more UNESCO sites than any other country in the world, with a total of 55.

Some are wine regions, including Barolo and Pantelleria, and there are seven UNESCO sites in Tuscany alone.

Leopoldo Saccon, team leader of the application, said it had been long, hard work, in Decanter’s article on how wine regions gain UNESCO status.

‘Italy has many World Heritage Sites, so it becomes more difficult for every new site to get accepted.’

On its Twitter page, Prosecco Superiore said it was ‘a dream come true’ to be added to the list.

See also: Travel – UNESCO World Heritage wine regions to visit

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Café Martinique at Atlantis: Champagne and food heaven in The Bahamas

Cafe Martinique at Atlantis
Relax and watch the world go by at Cafe Martinique at Atlantis.

This article has been created by Decanter in partnership with Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board.

You’ll hear plenty of swashbuckling tales of pirates and hidden loot from Nassau Paradise Island’s history, but the best treasure these days is found in the kitchens and wine cellars that are fuelling a thriving fine dining scene.

Café Martinique at Atlantis, famous for featuring in the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball, is at the forefront of the food and wine evolution in this enclave of The Bahamas.

It is working to expand its already-sizeable wine list to go hand-in-hand with a new plant-forward, seasonal menu devised by executive chef Alessio Pitzalis, who arrived earlier in 2019.

Champagne list  

There is an enviable list of top Champagnes, whether you want to channel your inner Bond and order a vintage Dom Pérignon or opt for a double magnum of Cristal, a bottle Pol Roger’s top cuvée, the Sir Winston Churchill, or go all out on a nine-litre salmanazar of Taittinger.

‘We are extremely proud of the Champagne section of our wine list,’ said Michael MacDonnell, vice president of food and beverage at Atlantis Bahamas.

‘We currently have over 40 labels to offer our guests and sommelier Donald Hopkins has been working diligently to source additional options.’

That puts Martinique well on the way to achieving its goal of being the premier Champagne destination in The Bahamas.

Champagne and food matching

cafe martinique food

Chef Alessio Pitzalis has introduced an innovative series of plant-based dishes alongside fresh fish and other Mediterranean-inspired fare. Credit: Cafe Martinique at Atlantis.

Pitzalis’ new menu puts a strong emphasis on plant-based dishes and there is a focus on fresh, seasonal cuisine inspired by Mediterranean flavours. Food is sourced locally wherever possible, from salad greens to Bahamian lobster, via relationships with fishermen and farmers.

The launch of the new menu has increased Martinique’s focus on food and wine pairing.

‘We have successfully paired Champagne with 90% of our menu,’ said MacDonnell, who believes that Champagne is ‘grossly underutilised at the dinner table’.

Some of matches that the team has devised include:

  • Krug’s Grande Cuvée Brut with chickpea falafel served with beetroot, feta cream, tabbouleh salad  and roasted lemon.
  • Billecart Salmon Rosé with cured beef carpaccio served with roasted ‘eggplant’ [aubergine] cream, sourdough croutons, mustard leaves and caper salsa verde.

Beyond Champagne: From Lafite 1961 to Sardinian Vermentino

Expanding the Café Martinique wine range has been a key part of the strategy in recent years.

‘We currently house over 300 labels and have plans to exceed 400-450 labels by the end of 2019,’ said MacDonneell, citing work by Hopkins and the resort’s beverage director, Sean Cartwright, to improve the list and upgrade cellar conditions.

‘We have made monumental strides in cellaring, procurement, temperature controls, and service,’ said MacDonnell. There are separate vaults for red and white wines to ensure ideal conditions, with total space for 2,000 bottles.

The team has sought to add more distinctive wines and hidden gems from lesser-known producers, focusing on pairing more wines with chef Pitzalis’ new-look menu. One newcomer has been Jankara Vermentino di Gallura Superiore 2014, at $92, in honour of Pitzalis’ Sardinian heritage.

Expect to see Spain featuring more prominently in the wine vault as the strategy progresses.

But there are a host of classics, too, with a strong focus on Bordeaux, Burgundy and California.

Star vintages like Lafite Rothschild 1961 and Haut-Brion 1959 are there if you want them, as are several vintages of Penfolds Grange spanning 1971 to 2005.


cafe martinique cocktails

Be sure to save space for a cocktail…Credit: Atlantis Bahamas.

For those still going after dinner, a botanical-rich and culinary-inspired cocktail menu is also on offer at the bar.

How to get there

Best of all, Café Martinique at Atlantis is just one of several treasure troves for food and wine lovers on Nassau Paradise Island.

And you don’t need a map to find this place:

Book your direct flight with British Airways

This article has been created by Decanter in partnership with Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board.

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Producer profile: Bodegas Faustino

Bodegas Faustino is the largest vineyard owner in Rioja with a long commitment to the traditional style of the region’s wines – their range, from entry-level to premium, can be found in more than 100 countries around the world.


Faustino History

Located in the Alavesa region of Rioja, Bodegas Faustino has been family owned and run for 150 years since it was bought by founding father Eleuterio Mertinez Arzok in 1861.

The Faustino legacy was started with the purchase of a manor house and adjoining vineyards in the Rioja municipality of Oyón where wine was made and sold directly from the barrel.

Shortly after, the estate like many others across Europe, was struck by the phylloxera epidemic that caused widespread destruction to the vineyards. Mass up-rooting of vines to remove the disease took place but with the help of his son Faustino Martinez Perez de Albeniz the vineyards were reconstructed, and the winery modernised, including the introduction of bottling their own wine for the first time.

The company continued to grow, with early bottlings have the names of the vineyards on including Campillo, Santana, Famar and Viña Parrita. In 1957 the third generation took over, and under the leadership of Julio Faustino Martinez Faustino was launched as an international brand and cemented its position as one of the largest export firms for reserve and grand reserve wines.

Rioja Region

Faustino is the largest land owner in Rioja, with 650ha of vineyards in the Rioja DOC – primarily in the Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Alta regions spanning Laguardia, Logroño and Mendavia y Oyón, which accounts for 50% of all Faustino production and 100% of Faustino Gran Reserva and Reserva.

The company has incorporated environmentally-friendly grape growing practices – centralised around production of Tempranillo, Graciano, Mazuelo and Viura – to ensure vineyard sustainability as well as employing precision viticulture to monitor canopy development and control quality.

The winery itself can hold roughly 50,000 oak barrels and there is a permanent collection of nine million bottles resting in its cellars.


The company produces around 1.6 million cases of wine with roughly 50% consumed outside of Spain.

Faustino exports to more than 100 countries around the world with 70% accounted for by the European Union, and maintains the number one position worldwide both for making the world’s biggest selling Rioja Gran Reserva with Faustino I as well as more generally exporting the most DOCa Rioja Gran Reserva of any company – currently responsible for 34% of all Gran Reserva produced in Rioja.

Scroll down for tasting notes


The wines of Bodegas Faustino are especially recognisable for their Burgundy-shaped frosted-glass bottles each labelled with a baroque portrait specific to the wine. Each wine is labelled Faustino followed by a Roman numeral indicating the level, the top level having the number I, the middle V and the entry level VII. They produce a range of reds whites and rosés in Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva styles as well as some limited edition, small production ranges.

The flagship Faustino I Gran Reserva carries Rembrandt’s 1641 portrait of Nicolaes Van Bambeek.

Faustino I is known as Primero – a premium wine only bottled in good vintages and is a rough blend of 80% Tempranillo with Graciano and Mazuelo. It is released for sale after a minimum of 25 months in French and American oak barrels plus at least three years in the bottle.

Faustino has a vast library collection of its Gran Reserva wines, dating back to the 1955 vintage, offering an impressive vertical selection straight from the cellar door. Library vintages include 1955, 1964, 1970, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 2001, 2004 and the current vintage 2005. 2006 will be released in the first quarter of 2019.

Faustino’s other Rioja labels include a Crianza style, ‘V Reserva’ red – a blend of Tempranillo and Mazuelo and aged for 18 months in American oak barrels, ‘V’ white a blend of Viura and Chardonnay and V rosé. ‘VII’ is a 100% Tempranillo wine aged for 6 months in American oak barrels while the white is 100% Viura. Faustino also produces a wine that is made from 100% organic Tempranillo.

In 2018 Faustino launched a trio of new wines including Gran Faustino 1955. This special release features the 2,500 remaining bottles that were originally launched to the market in 1963 after eight years of ageing. The 55th anniversary was commemorated by a re-launch showcasing the wine in Rhine-style bottles, popular in La Rioja in the 1950s, that are tall and matt in texture and feature a vintage style black and gold label with lettering and watermarks that would have been traditionally used in the 50s.

Faustino Art Collection Willy Ramos Edition – seven wines including the V1, V2 and Crianza red wines plus a rosé and three Chardonnays. The collection is in tribute to one of Spain’s foremost artists and features Ramos’ re-imagined version of Faustino’s iconic label and portrait of Nicolas Van Bambeeck on the collection’s bottles.

Icon Reserva Especial – a handpicked wine from low yielding, 35-year-old bush vines at 500m above sea level before being aged in French wood for 18 months and a further two in bottle before being released.

Faustino also produces a range of sparkling wines from the Cava DO including the Brut Reserva to Semi Seco, Extra Seco and Rosado.

Grupo Faustino

Under the direction of current leader, and fourth generation family member Don Julio Faustino Martinez, Faustino has expanded to become Grupo Faustino with over 250 employees and seven wineries spanning 2,000ha across key Spanish designations of origin. The company has focused on exploration and investment into lesser-known regions of Spain and brand acquisitions including Campillo and Marques de Vitoria in Rioja, Valcarlos in Navarra, Condesa de Leganza in La Mancha and Bodegas Portia in Ribera del Duero.

Tasting notes by John Stimpfig

See the latest Grupo Faustino tasting notes

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Insider tips for pairing Champagne with food

champagne with food, guide
Oysters and blanc de blancs Champagne is a classic, but there are plenty of other options, too…

Five ways to pair Champagne with food this week

  • Blanc de blancs non-vintage with fresh oysters or to cut through the fat of a soft cheese like young camembert
  • Vintage blanc de blancs with lobster
  • Vintage rosé with roast venison, served slightly pink
  • Blanc de noirs with aged Comté
  • Demi-sec with a chocolate dessert

See our experts’ favourite Champagnes of 2018

Have you ever tried Krug Grande Cuvée with your fish and chips, or vintage rosé Champagne with salmon or game from the barbeque? How about matching up the brioche notes in an aged demi-sec with your breakfast pain-au-chocolat on a Saturday morning?

It regularly vexes many in the wine trade – and particularly those in Champagne itself – that France’s premier sparkling wine isn’t paired with food more often.

Champagne’s many styles and ability to deliver complex flavours – in the right glass – make it a versatile guest at the dinner table, offering plenty of opportunities for experimentation, as the examples above suggest.

For the record, Krug really did recruit Michelin-starred chef Tom Sellers to pair its Grande Cuvée with the traditional British chippy, in 2015.

A few basics to consider

First up, think about the weighting of the blend; for example, is it towards Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, or maybe even Pinot Meunier?

It’s also worth considering the age profile of the wine. Is it vintage? What is the time spent on lees? If it’s non-vintage, what is the profile of the reserve wines used in the blend?

Sweetness, indicated by dosage in g/l, is important, too. The chart below shows the maximum residual sugar levels for each category of sparkling wine

Of course, knowledge of the style preferences of a particular house or grower will help. You’ll find lots of detail in our expert tasting notes on great Champagnes from house prestige cuvée to grower. A well-informed, independent merchant should also be able to advise you on house styles.

Champagne sweetness levels


sparkling wine sweetness


Champagne with seafood

Fresh seafood platters or oysters are seen as a classic territory for blanc de blancs Champagne, made entirely from Chardonnay.

‘Blanc de Blancs is the natural match with seafood because of its fresh citrus spectrum range of flavours,’ said Champagne expert, author and Decanter contributor Michael Edwards.

A non-vintage Brut Nature can even work here, he added, suggesting the blanc de blancs Premier Cru version from Veuve Fourny.

Blanc de blancs also works with lobster, but some experts suggest a richer style – perhaps a vintage – to match the fuller flavour of this outsized crustacean.

‘One of my favorite styles with lobster is blanc de blancs Champagne, especially a vintage bottling from a great producer, like the 2006 Pierre Moncuit,’ said Chris Gaither, sommelier and co-owner of San Francisco wine bar Ungrafted, which prides itself on its Champagne range.

As an alternative, Gaither advocated ‘a richer style of [non-vintage] Champagne with a good amount of reserve wine used in the cuvée, which adds volume and complexity, like the Brut Reserve from Charles Heidsieck’.

Rosé Champagne 

It would be unfair to those houses with a long tradition to describe rosé Champagne as a new trend, but there have been more attempts to create serious, food-friendly versions in recent years.

There are many ‘gastronomic’, vintage rosé Champagnes to choose from, such as Dom Pérignon 2006, Louis Roderer’s Cristal rosé 2002 or Billecart-Salmon’s Cuvée Elizabeth Salmon rosé 2006.

These types of vintage rosé can often take a slightly meatier pairing, largely because of the richness added by a higher proportion of Pinot Noir used to create them.

A stronger-flavoured fish, such as salmon cooked on the barbeque, would be a good summer match to try.

Roast venison or pheasant can make a perfect pairing with vintage rosé, said Edwards, who has also previously recommended Veuve Clicquot’s La Grande Dame 2008 with duck.

Champagne with cheese

Venture into full Pinot Noir Champagne territory and you could experiment with even stronger flavours.

Edwards said that a vintage blanc de noirs with extended years on lees is a ‘perfect match with aged Comté and Beaufort cheeses’.

For a young, creamy camembert, however, you could revert to a vintage blanc de blancs.

The late and great Gérard Basset MW MS OBE recommended Champagne with such cheeses, because one needs ‘good acidity to cut through the high fat content’.

Demi-sec for dessert

The general conensus is that demi-sec should be reserved for dessert. Chocolate pudding could be a winner. Veuve Clicquot also recommends demi-sec with crème brulée and fresh fruit-based desserts.

With so many house styles, don’t be afraid to try things out. See Karen MacNeil’s 10 rules of food and wine matching for a basic starting point.

See more food and wine pairing guides on


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Must-try Sauvignon Blanc wines

Best Sauvignon Blanc Wines

While the Loire villages of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé arguably produce the best of the crisp, minerally Sauvignons (with standout examples including the late Didier Dageneau’s Silex and Vacheron’s L’Enclos des Remparts), the pungent, tropical style is very much the product of the new world.

New Zealand leads the way with pioneering wines such as Cloudy Bay’s Te Ko– and Greywacke’s Wild Ferment Sauvignon, but their are also great examples from the like of Australia, South Africa and California.

The Sauvignon Blancs below are worthy of attention, garnering high praise from Decanter’s experts – these are wines that should be on any serious Sauvignon fan’s radar.

The best Sauvignon Blanc wines:

Decanter Premium: Save wines and their tasting notes to your My Wines list – create your own collection of wines

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