Abbaye de Lerins Saint Honorat monks offer to discover the products of the Lord’s vineyards on a wine cruise around the Saint Honorat Island, mixing spirituality, tasting and wonderful landscapes.
Located between Cannes and the offshore turquoise blue waters, protected by the island of Sainte Marguerite, Saint Honorat offers a haven of peace and an extraordinary heritage. The abbey and its fortified monastery under renovation, are unique in the world of spirituality. Monastic presence on Saint Honorat goes back to 1600 years. The monastery was founded by Saint Honorat, a Gallo-Roman aristocrat, who spotted the island whose reputation was sulfurous, as it was infested with both demons and snakes. Upon arrival, demons and serpents rushed to the sea and Saint Honorat turned the island into a small paradise.
The Cistercian monks of Saint Honorat grow vines since the Middle Ages and produce a reputed liquor, the Lerina. The wine of the Abbey of Lerins Saint Honorat also knows a great reputation. It was notably served to heads of state at the G20 summit in Cannes. Wine quality is due to several parameters that combine to give an exceptional terroir for a vineyard of 8.5 hectares.
An exceptional terroir for an exceptional vineyard
First, the forest is surrounding the vineyard and protects it from the breeze that burns the vine. Then, the sea around acts as a thermal regulator: in summer it acts as a refrigerator and a heating in winter. The plant is not going to have stress in winter, the sap will not go too deeply. These conditions make the vineyard of Saint Honorat know a development of 3 weeks ahead comparing to the continent.
In addition, a natural source of water gushes on Saint Honorat. The water comes from the Alps, passes under Sainte Marguerite and goes up in Saint Honorat, giving a high ground water. The vine will not stress to fetch water, finding it easily. Further more, the floor has vertical geological strata, taproots find therefore easily their way to get the necessary minerals and elements of nutriton.
5 terroirs with several different parcels
Monks are practicing a reasoned viticulture: no pesticide, insecticide or herbicide. The salt from sea spray is deposited on the leaves, this salt will naturally clean the leaves and insects will not attack easily. Moreover, this salt gives a light and subtle little iodized taste to wines. The vineyard comprises 5 terroirs with several different plots, each plot is analyzed every week.
6 vines varieties
For whites, the cultivated varieties are Chardonnay, Viognier and Clairette. The reds are given by Syrrah, Pinault Noir and Mourvèdre. Two varieties are not native to the region, Chardonnay and Pinault Noir but the monks imported them from Burgundy. Very great wines are produced by the Abbey of Lérins, with names of Saints: Saint Salonius, Saint Césaire, Saint Lambert…
The twenty-one monks of the Abbey of Lérins Saint Honorat live according to the Rule of Saint Benedict and apply the motto “ora et labora”. Monks pray, work and pamper their vines by hand, under the supervision of Maître de Chai Brother Marie Pâques, giving an artisanal and authentic production. All wines spend 12 months in oak barrels, except the Clairette.
The wines tasted during the cruise
The tasting was conducted by Eric Martin, head of development. Two wines were tasted: white Saint Pierre 2011, an assembly of two varieties: 75%Chardonnay and 25 % Clairette. The nose is present, pleasant, after riddling wine, many more flavors : acidity, white fruits, citric of brioche… At tasting, we feel a good acidity, giving sensation of freshness, with a slight hint of mint on the back, good length in mouth.
The Red wine was Saint Honorat 2010: 95% syrah, a very dark color, ruby, very present nose of cherry, black fruits, spices, pepper, a beautiful rich sharp, direct attack, tannin present but with a round, silky structure, a long finish and small salty taste giving a mineral aspect .
The wines are on sale during the cruise.
Besides these oenological treasures, the cruise allows discover breathtaking landscapes in a beautiful light, the Croisette, the Lérins Islands and their lush and rugged coastline, the Abbey of Lérins Saint Honorat, the fortified monastery, the Royal Fort on Sainte Marguerite, where the Iron Mask was imprisonned, the most mysterious of prisoners.
And if the wine makes you roll and pitch, it will be the boat’s fault.
April 25th May 30th June 27th -July 25th August 29th September 26th
Adult: 49€, Child (5 to 10 years old): 20€, free for children under 5
From June 1st to September 30th, every Friday, you can also embark on the “Sea, Wine and Sun” cruise to enjoy a glass of wine from the Abbey of Lérins Saint Honorat in a relaxed atmosphere and wonderfull landscape with a plate of savory salted mignardises.
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