Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Visit of an Ultra-premium Non-mainstream Bordeaux Producer: Tertre Rôteboeuf, with Owner and Winemaker François Mitjavile, France

Pictures: The Group, Annette Schiller and Christian G.E. Schiller at Tertre Rôteboeuf with François Mitjavile

The 2013 Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy PR and WineTours included a visit at Tertre Rôteboeuf with François Mitjavile.

Bordeaux Wine Tour 2013 by ombiasy

Tertre Rôteboeuf is one of the finest châteaux in Saint-Emilion. Yet, it is not well known. Why? First, it is not in the prestigious group of classified chateaux, although its wines are clearly in the same league as those wines that are made by chateaux that are classified. And, François Mitjavile does not sell his wines through the Place de Bordeaux, but has his own distribution channels. Nor is he a member of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGCB). This is as far as I know unique for a Bordeaux producer who is able to sell his wines at a price level at which François Mitjavile does. Obviously, François Mitjavile is far away from St. Emilion mainstream. He does not bother to be included in the prestigious Saint-Emilion classification, he does not sell his wines through the Place de Bordeaux nor does he care about a UGCB membership.

Pictures: Arriving at Tertre Rôteboeuf

20 years ago, Tertre Rôteboeuf was unknown. But since then, Tertre Rôteboeuf has become a cult wine producer in St. Emilion and the price of Tertre Rôteboeuf has gone up significantly. This has been spearheaded by a unique individual, François Mitjavile, helped by his wife Miloute, his son Louis and daughter Nina.

It did not come as a surprise to me that last year, the leading German Fine Food and Wine Journal, Der Feinschmecker, selected François Mitjavile as Winemaker.

Pictures: François Mitjavile Greeting us


The origins of Tertre Rôteboeuf lie with a vineyard named Le Tertre that was owned by François Mitjavile's late father-in-law. After he passed away in 1961, the property was inherited by his daughter Miloute. She leased it to her cousins, who owned Chateau Bellefond-Belcier.

Meanwhile, François Mitjavile was working at his family's successful haulage business. He decided to change course in life and try his hand at winemaking.

Between 1975 and 1977, he went through the school of Chateau Figeac. When he returned to Le Tertre after the 2 year apprenticeship, he suffixed Rôteboeuf (its literal translation is the unsavory "hill of the belching beef").

Pictures: François Mitjavile Explaining his Vineyards

1978 was the first vintage that François Mitjavile made entirely by himself. His breakthrough on the wine scene was with the 1985-vintage. Since 1994-vintage, he removed the word “Châteaux” from the label at his wines.

Tertre Rôteboeuf

Tertre Rôteboeuf looks a bit garagiste - a small estate with a vigneron house build in the 18th century lovingly tended by Miloute and François Mitjavile, two kilometers south-east of the village of Saint-Emilion, not far from Chateau Troplong Mondot and Chateau Larcis Ducasse.

The limestone based vineyards of Tertre Rôteboeuf (5.7 ha) are planted with 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. The Merlot-vines are on average 45 years old, while Cabernet Franc ones are 5 years older.

Pictures: François Mitjavile Explaining his Vineyards

François Mitjavile's winemaking approach: He picks the grapes as late as possible and maintains low yields. The wine stays on the skins for a long time and is aged in 100% new oak barrels for 18 to 24 months. The very late harvest combined with long alcoholic fermentation and extraction at 35°C results in a voluptuous, full-bodied, and very complex wine. Super-ripe Merlot is the key.

The estate does not produce a second wine.

When François Mitjavile took over, he was considered as an odd person with strange ideas. Today, he is acknowledged and respected by his peers.

Pictures: Annette Schiller and Christian G.E. Schiller at Tertre Rôteboeuf with François Mitjavile

Estate Walk and Barrel Tasting

The estate walk and barrel tasting with François Mitjavile was clearly one of the highlights of the 2013 Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy. We met a very articulate and eloquent wine maker, a very cultivated person and a passionate communicator, who likes to illustrate what he wants to say about his wine with parallels from music, art and philosophy.

All the time during his presentation in his backyard, he walked back and forth. I was told that François Mitjavile actually walks in the vineyard during the night, with his hands on his back, talking lovingly to the vines and I believe it.

Wine Searcher Average Prices Tertre Rôteboeuf

2012 US$164
2011 US$171
2010 US$242
2009 US$251
2005 US$378
2000 US$418

Roc des Cambes in Cotes de Bourg

Roc de Cambes is a Côtes de Bourg estate and one of the finest producer in the appellation today. François Mitjavile bought it in 1988 by.

There are 12 hectares of vines, planted with 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Malbec. The soil here is a blend of chalk and clay. Vines are on average 50 years old.

Pictures: François Mitjavile Lecturing

The grapes are harvested as late as possible, and are then vinified in temperature controlled cement vats. The wines are massive and dense, spending two years in 100 per cent new oak.

When Francois Mitjavile bought Roc de Cambes, it was in quite bad shape. He put renovation and modernizing in full swing immediately. In just a few years, he Roc de Cambes one of the top-wines of Côtes de Bourg.

The second wine labeled as Domaine de Combes comes under the basic Bordeaux appellation.

Wine Searcher Average Prices Roc des Cambes

2011 US$ 61
2010 US$ 71
2009 US$ 71
2005 US$ 85
2000 US$ 81

Domaine de l’Aurage

The Mitjavile family owns another Bordeaux property located in Cotes de Castillon. Although Francois poured the Domaine de l'Aurage 2007, he did not talk much about the estate. The Bordeaux expert Jeff Leve, who runs Wine Cellar Insider, has a nice, short write-up about the estate on his web-site.

Louis Mitjavile is completely in charge (with his wife Caroline Mitjavile). Domaine de l’Aurage was previously bottled under the name Chateau Cadet, before it was purchased by the Mitjavile familiy.

The 18 hectare vineyard is planted to 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. On average the vines are 25 years of age. It is the goal for Domaine de l’Aurage to have their entire vineyard eventually planted to 100% Merlot vines. The wine is vinified in traditional concrete vats and is on average is aged in 80% new oak. On average the production is close to 7,500 cases of wine per vintage.

What we Tasted in the Wine Cellar

2012 Tertre Rôteboeuf (US$164)

Picked on 9th October and a blend of 20% Cabernet Franc and 80% Merlot, Francois Mitjavile’s 2012 has a wonderfully pixelated bouquet with pellucid dark cherries, fresh raspberry and minerals. It is not as intense as either the 2009 or 2010, but then again, why should it be. It has the kind of bouquet that creeps up on you. The texture of the tannins scream “Burgundy!” on the entry, but there is a seam of graphite threaded through the dark berry fruit that brings you back to Bordeaux. It is not a powerful, extravagant or even a “gourmand” Tertre-Rôteboeuf, but it exudes poise, harmony and that oft-forgotten word...drinkability – Neal Martin. (Neal Martin score 92 – 94)

Pictures: Tasting in the Wine Cellar

Tertre Rotebeuf 2011 (US$171)

Picked on 22nd September, the Tertre-Rôteboeuf has a very pure, lifted bouquet with great precision and minerality. It is not powerful, but it has great refinement and finesse. The palate is introverted, remaining its shell, but it has crisp, almost chalky tannins and very pure, pixelated dark berry fruit with hints of spice on the linear finish. It is not expressive at the moment, but it has great potential. Tasted April 2012. Score: 92-94 Neal Martin, eRobertParker.com, April 2012

Pictures: Tasting in the Wine Cellar

Domaine de l’Aurage 2007 (US$50)

Duvault Blochet: An early vintage. July and August were not so good, low sun overall and low heat too, harvesting was 4th & 5th October. The wine saw 75% new oak although as with all Mitjvile wines it is only in the texture that you ever get any sense of this. This wine has a lovely balance, it is medium of body with a richness but not heaviness, lovely now but will age well for 8-10years, for a 2007 it is mighty impressive and a cracking debut for the estate.

Pictures: Tasting in the Wine Cellar


Thank you very much François Mitjavile for a phantastic event.

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Visit of an Ultra-premium Non-mainstream Bordeaux Producer: Tertre Rôteboeuf, with Owner and Winemaker François Mitjavile

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schiller-wine: Related Posting (Tertre Rôteboeuf)

Visit of an Ultra-premium Non-mainstream Bordeaux Producer: Tertre Rôteboeuf, with Owner and Winemaker François Mitjavile

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