Château Le Prieuré
The origins of this estate lay, unsurprisingly for a domaine named for a prieuré (a priory), with the church. It began life in the hands of the Cordeliers, one of several Franciscan orders (meaning they followed the teachings of St Francis of Assisi). They became known as the Cordeliers during the course of the Seventh Crusade, in the mid-13th century, a reference to the simple belt made of cord which they used to tie large brown cloaks. These monks probably lived close to St Emilion at Les Menuts, just outside the town walls (because they certainly owned the land), but when they moved within the town for protection they built a church and cloisters, the latter of which still stand today and remain one of the town’s most popular tourist attractions.
Having been here since at least the 14th century I suspect the monks were tending vines around the town since these early days, although records only describe with certainty the planting of vines here in 1696. Naturally, come the Revolution at the end of the 18th century, these lands were confiscated, broken up, and the various parts sold off as biens nationaux. The cloisters were abandoned and despite the order reforming and gaining official recognition in 1850, they were never reclaimed. They would once again play a peripheral role in the story of this estate, but not for many years, and before we get to that point we should first examine what happened to their vineyards which lay outside the walls, just to the east of the town, after they were sold off.
Pierre Berthomieu de Meynot
The buyer in 1796 was Pierre Berthomieu de Meynot (1754 – 1843), the son of Pierre Berthomieu de Meynot (died after 1810), a military man who was also mayor of St Emilion, and Pétronille Bouquey (died after 1811). This was a successful and presumably wealthy family, the younger Pierre a conseiller d’arrondissement in Libourne, a judge and member of the municipal council in St Emilion at various times during his life. With his purchase of a section of the monastic estate he acquired not only vineyards and the associated winemaking facilities, but also a small church and the aforementioned cloisters. The wines he made were sold under the name of Cru Aux Menuts.
The younger Pierre married Marie Justine Bulle (1777 – 1850), who was 23 years his junior, and they had two sons, Antoine and Ferdinand, and a daughter Marie Madeleine. Of this trio of siblings it was Ferdinand Berthomieu de Meynot (1801 – 1882) who took over the running of the vineyards. Like his father he was also a successful legal practitioner, working as an avocat in St Emilion. He married Adélaïde de Boussiers (1811 – 1885) and they had two sons who would go on to be instrumental in the further development of the family’s vineyards. The elder was Henri Berthomieu de Meynot (1843 – 1909) and the younger was Gabriel Berthomieu de Meynot (born 1847), and together they took on the running of the property. The estate first crops in the 1886 Cocks et Féret, with Gabriel listed as proprietor, under the new name of Cru des Cordeliers.