h e V i r t u a l A b b e y : A M e d i e v
a l T o u r
Entrance | Herb Garden
| Wine Cellar
The Wine Cellar 1,
of Medieval Wine
for a couple of months "in the wood," wine was then
poured from barrels into jugs and made short work of by
Bottled wine was only introduced
in the late 1600's, when wax or oil- soaked wood plugs were
used as stoppers. It
soon turned the wine to vinegar.
medieval wine had to be consumed "young," and with a lower
alcohol content. Monks prized a taste that was sweet, and
a color that was clear, (claret) often obtained by
mixing red and white.
improvements were yet to come when an old Benedictine, Dom
Perignon, made a startling
we read that wine is not a drink for monks, but since monks cannot
be persuaded of this, let us at least agree to drink sparingly
and not to take our fill,
wrote St. Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine order, in his
- or Black Monks for the color of their robes - oversaw
vast numbers of monasteries that once numbered in the thousands.
This huge organization was based on an earthy work ethic, combined
with proper study and always fervent prayer.
In their libraries, Benedictine scribes
emerged to become the foremost chroniclers of their time. In the
field, their farmers became the agricultural experts. As anywhere,
these hard working landowners also often held strong influence
over local political life.
a monastic order, The Benedictines had few equals; that is, until
The Cistercians, or White Monks (more commonly known today as
founded in 1098 at Citeaux in France by St. Robert.
expansion finally began in earnest in 1112 - when St.
Bernard of Clairvaux made a convincing argument against what
was often perceived as the wanton lifestyle of the wicked and
decadent Black Monks.
call for an immediate return to strict monasticism quickly attracted
followers by way of pamphlets, speeches, and direct confrontation,
attacking the Benedictine's elaborate Gothic monasteries, the
gold and silver chalices, and mon dieu! - too much singing.
It was this practice, above all, proclaimed Bernard, that brought
dry mouths to the Benedictines - resulting in their great thirst!
And while the Benedictines produced the much-loved vintages of
Burgundy such as Pommard, Clos de Beze, Cote de Dijon,
and Pouilly-Fume, the White Monks were also at work in
Burgundy, they also produced such wines as Clos Vougeot.
From a 62-acre Cisterian vineyard on the Rhine in Germany also
came Kloster Eberbach.
However, the Cisterians' stern life under cross and plough eventually
turned to a growing Benedictine-like thirst for the high life.
the thirteenth century, having been bequeathed the impressive
Abbey in England, the White Monks were competing for control
of huge tracts of land and holding steady influence in matters
political, both in Rome, and at the French court.
We leave the theologians to debate which of the two orders were
the more influential in matters of the spirit. As to the
question of winemaking, that might have been settled in the late
1600's by a Black Monk who would bring a scientific spirit of
discovery to the table - Dom Perignon....