Our History & Heritage

LES CORDELIERS are based in the heart of the village of Saint-Emilion, near Bordeaux.
At the centre of this picturesque UNESCO World Heritage site stands a perfectly preserved 14th-century cloister. This spectacular site also includes gardens and a network of underground cellars and passages where we have been producing superior sparkling wines since 1892.

The History of the Cordeliers

8 Centuries of Adventure

The Cordeliers name comes from the original occupants of this site, Franciscan monks who observed the monastic rule of St. Francis of Assisi. They earned the nickname 'Les Cordeliers' during the 7th Crusade, on account of their traditional dress of a large coarse cloak fastened with a cord belt. The monks originally lived just outside Saint-Emilion, but in 1338 they obtained permission from the Pope to establish a monastery within the walls. It was in this period that the Cordeliers cloister was built. In 1383, King Richard II of England made a permanent gift of land to the Franciscans, and for four centuries until the onset of the Revolution in 1789 the Cordeliers occupied this site with their church, an entrance courtyard, a winery, a vat room, a cellar, a garden and a dormitory building with six bedrooms. In the late XIXth century the new owners decided to convert the extensive underground spaces into wineries and bottle cellars. Over the years the winemaking techniques used at LES CORDELIERS have reached a new level of perfection, producing magnificent sparkling wines in these incredible surroundings.

A Beautiful Cloister

A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Now a listed Historical Monument and UNESCO World Heritage site, the CORDELIERS cloister is one of Saint-Emilion's most popular tourist attractions. This perfectly preserved example of late Romanesque architecture is one of the medieval village's most picturesque locations. The grounds of the cloister also include a large garden with leafy avenues, prized for its timeless charm and profound sense of calm. Writer Maurice Graterolle penned a panegyric to this haven of peace in the XIXth century, and the cloister was also used as the inspiration for a major production at the Opéra in Paris. The cloister has also made a few appearances on film, featuring prominently in the Brigitte Bardot vehicle 'La mariée est trop belle'.

Underground cellars & passages

Beneath the medieval streets

The CORDELIERS site is also famous for its network of underground passages. They are the result of mining for the stone which was subsequently used to build much of Saint-Emilion and certain parts of Bordeaux. Stretching for over 3 kilometres, the tunnels run beneath the streets of Saint- Emilion and beneath the vines of some nearby châteaux before connecting with deep underground cellars. 20m below the surface, these cellars remain at a constant temperature of 12°C all year round, with total darkness which is perfect for the development of our wines, produced here using traditional methods since 1892.
The romantic ruins<br />of the convent The sculptural arches<br />of the cloister
The picturesque bell tower<br />of the old church The majestic nave<br />of the old church