The “Connétablie de Guyenne”, whose headquarters were originally located at the Château Ducal d’Épernon, is the third wine brotherhood created in Bordeaux in 1952, following the Jurade of Saint-Émilion (1948) and the Bontemps Médoc (1950). Its territory covers five appellations côtes-de-bordeaux, côtes-de-bourg, blaye-côtes-de-bordeaux, entre-deux-mers and graves-de-vayres, each with an established brotherhood chapter sharing the same rituals and costumes.
The word “connétablie” has resurrected the constableship title – if not the functions – of the ancient Bordeaux institution, dating back to the time when Guyenne was prey to the rivalries between France and England – fist attached to the Crown of France, then to that of England, through the second marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204). Finally, the region again came under French rule when the Battle of Castillon ended the Hundred Years’ War in 1453.
The High Constableship was in charge of guarding the Palais de l’Ombrière, whose imposing structure no longer exists, where the Peugue River flowed into the Garonne.
It was the regional administrative center at the time, overseeing customs, military, and treasury matters.
It is easy to imagine a brigade of constables controlling the content of wine barrels in the port using their “velte” (a gauging stick used to calculate volume). The constables then hung a cypress branch (the trees have since disappeared) to ship masts as an official payment receipt.
Nowadays, a reminder of the past remains. The small Cypéssat chapel is visible at the end of the avenue Thiers in Bordeaux, at the foothill of Cenon.
The Wine Brotherhood
The Guyenne Wine Brotherhood adopted the constableship’s uniform: the cleric’s black robe whose austerity is embellished with red or yellow cross-shaped facings, representing red and white wine.
The hat is reminiscent of Louis XI’s headdress with a red and yellow cord braided into a scallop shell. A medal with the traditional province of Guyenne’s coat of arms is worn on the chest, and an epaulette stapled on the left shoulder discreetly displays the appellation’s name.