The wines of Francois Mitjavile: Tertre Rôteboeuf & Roc de Cambes 1986-2015

Wednesday, September 11


We visited Tertre Rôteboeuf in April and were entranced by the people, the place and the wines.  Sandwiched between visits to gleaming cellars at Beauregard and Pavie, our appointment at Tertre Rôteboeuf was like being transported to an ancient, mould-lined cellar in Burgundy.  The charming and philosophical Francois Mitjavile held court, but his daughter Nina is evidently taking an increasing lead in the winemaking with each passing vintage. 

The wines are quite unlike anything else we have tasted in Bordeaux and are not easy to describe.  The usual juxtaposition of 'concentration' and 'elegance' fails to convey the intense, wildly aromatic Pinot Noir-like quality to the nose versus the opulent blueberry and blackberry fruit concentration on the palate. 

Sumultaneously an intellectual and a sensory delight, Mitjavile's wines often win over some of the most famous names right bank names in blind tastings.  We wonder they do not score more highly (mere mid-90s!) but as Julia Harding MW points out in an article on Mitjavile:

"...with these wines more than any, the words are more important than the numbers."  Jancis Oct 2017.

The estate has been in the family since the '60s but it was Mitjavile who made its name, learning his trade at Figeac in the early '70s.  His first vintage was in 1978 and by the '89 vintage the reputation of this 6 hectare estate was established alongside the best in St-Émilion.  

Roc de Cambes was acquired in 1988, a distinct terroir, but the wines exhibit the same Mitjavile magic, with a unique texture and aromatic complexity.

Farmed organicallyTertre Rôteboeuf is close to Troplong Mondot and Pavie.  The cool soils here slow the ripening process and this is usually one of the last estates to finish harvest.  Training the Merlot and Cabernet Franc vines close to the ground (see picture above) maximises the warmth radiated from the soil at the end of the ripening season.  This contributes to the silky, glycerin texture on the palate and aromatic complexity, particularly from the Cabernet Franc.  

Francois and Nina radiate their own warmth and wholeheartedness when talking about their terroir and how they make their wines.  We have managed to secure the parcel below which includes some wonderful modern and older vintages.  

No introduction to Tertre Rôteboeuf is complete without the etymology of the name, derived from the days when the land was used for cattle grazing, and broadly translating as 'the hill of the belching beef'.

These exceptionally beautiful wines are offered duty paid or in bond, according to the individual vintages listed below.  Available October 2019.

You can view a list of the wines offered (subject to availability) here.


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