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Clos des Capucins

Clos des Capucins

“Do you want to see what remains of the convent?” asked proprietor-vigneron Fiona Beeston.

I looked around, but saw nothing that looked like the remains of the Couvent des Capucins, that which had been built here during the early 17th century. The house, which stands at the top of the slope overlooking the vines, was clearly several centuries younger. And I knew she could not be referring to the imposing Couvent des Calvairiennes, the immaculately restored and maintained building at the very foot of the slope (which in any case has its own associated vineyard, the Clos de l’Hospice).

Seeing my affirmative nod, Fiona turned around and immediately disappeared into a small cutting (below), its limestone walls painted green with lichen and moss, and draped in a curtain of ivy.

Clos des Capucins

I darted after her as she descended, and seconds later we were standing in an ancient and dimly lit cellar. History if not time itself seemed to exude from its dark walls and low arched ceiling. It had perhaps once been a scullery or kitchen – the fireplace in one corner supported this theory – where meals for the monks, resident in the long-disappeared house above, would be prepared. In more modern times it has understandably served as a barrel cellar, the cool subterranean temperature ideal for storing barrels filled with the latest vintage. Although as Fiona has now established new winemaking facilities behind the house, the scullery-kitchen-cum-cellar now stands empty.

Perhaps more importantly, today it exists as testament to the presence of the Capuchins in Chinon, and justifies the name of this place; the Clos des Capucins.

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