Les Cordeliers in Saint-Emilion

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The first wine based UNESCO Heritage site, Saint Emilion has to be one of the most romantic and authentic places in the Bordeaux region. This perfectly preserved medieval village with its tiny lanes and many restaurants is famed for its red wines. You might not know that they also make a sparkling wine here – Crémant de Bordeaux.

Tucked away down a back street you can discover a hidden gem: the old cloisters of the Cordeliers. Up until now, this little corner of Saint Emilion has been a well-kept secret.

All this may change now Le Cloitre des Cordeliers won the 2020 Best Of Wine Tourism award in the Architecture and Landscapes category. 

The Cordeliers takes its named from the Franciscan monks who owned the monastery here and wore a cord rope around their robes. 20 metres in the limestone below their old church and grounds are quarries dating back to the 9th century. These are now re purposed as the ageing caves for the Crémant de Bordeaux. Still wines from the surrounding vineyards have been brought here since 1892 for the 'prise de mousse', the second fermentation in the bottle that gives the wine its sparkle.

The entrance to these cellars is at the centre of newly renovated 14th century church, opened to the public just last year. Here you can taste the complete range of Cordeliers Crémant wines, white and rosé, blanc de blanc and vintage.

This beautiful building houses tasting corners and boutiques, selling wine, the more famous reds of Saint Emilion as well as the Crémant, alongside regional souvenirs local food specialities, and other gifts. Don't miss the famous macarons!

Stay after the tasting and enjoy the gardens and ruined cloisters of the former monastery. Sip on the bubbles of Crémant de Bordeaux amongst the monolithic columns. The bar offers regional specialities so you can create your own picnic, served in the traditional wooden harvesters baskets. You can also enjoy more traditional regional cuisine in the restaurant.

It's a one-stop shop for history, wine, food and a complete medieval experience in the very heart of Saint Emilion.

By Wendy Narby