I don’t really want to labour the point. Much has been said far more eloquently and persuasively on this topic by others, including Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson, whose voices carry at least some weight. But I’d not visited the Mosel for a while and as we drove down into the valley from the Autobahn I was keenly anticipating seeing some stunning scenery and tasting some of my favourite wines. What I didn’t expect to see, I’d merely forgotten about it, was this, and I felt that another expression of disgust cannot be wholly wasted.
There is an article by David Cobbald in World of Fine Wine 48 (the current issue) about the application, recently successful, by the Cote d’Or for UNESCO World Heritage Site Status. If ever another wine region deserved consideration on the basis of its Roman origins as a viticultural region and the particularly gruelling manual labour required to farm these often vertiginous slopes, it’s the Middle Mosel. That this bridge, between Urzig and Zeltingen, will not only spoil the view, but, more importantly, affect the microclimate and drainage of the nearby vineyards seems short-sighted to me.
Personally, I’d call the bridge a crime, at least metaphorically speaking – the bridge, in it’s current location, seems largely to have been built out of political considerations as much as economic ones. I’m sure the time for cancellation of the project has past. I had heard that a new survey throws doubt upon the safety of the foundations, but work seemed pretty much in full swing when we cycled past a few days ago. Maybe it will fall down, like some of the medieval cathedrals whose naves soared skyward beyond the technical capabilities of their builders. But no one wants that tragedy, not least the wine estates with vines below it.
So, to those in the National and Regional governments responsible, all we can say is “shame on you”. It seems to me that a particularly technocratic and unimaginative mindset is responsible. The result of the actions of those dull individuals is very sad indeed. UNESCO’s Convention was signed by 191 countries in 1975, following the saving of several Egyptian temples at risk from the Aswan Dam project in the 1960s. Focussed international pressure worked then, yet Germany has closed its eyes and ears to the protests over this bridge.
This is how I prefer to remember the Middle Mosel…