Beginning with his first vintage at Tertre Roteboeuf in 1978, François Mitjavile didn’t need long to grow his (staunchly!) unclassified estate into one of the most respected names in St Emilion.
Part winemaker, part philosopher, Mitjavile is one of the great characters of Bordeaux. He could be considered almost Burgundian in his approach - the opulence and grandeur are for his wines, not his front gate, the cellars are not gilded halls and statues.
Mitjavile generally picks late, uses 100% new oak, and produces no second wine. Truly one of the personalities of the region.
Medium deep crimson. Beautiful complex dried roses, cherry, smoky oak aromas. Supple and sweet with lovely dried roses, leafy notes, fine al dente tannins and beautiful rich toasty/ roasted chesnut oak. Superb slinky dry tannins. Sensuous wine with chewy long finish. Wonderful and different.Tasted at Ch Tertre Rotebeouf.
The 2016 Le Tertre Roteboeuf is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc cropped at 35 hectoliters per hectare between 14-18 October. This year I was hosted by François' daughter Nina Mitjavile, who has been working alongside her father for several years. It has a wonderful bouquet, very pure and fresh. I anticipated that François Mitjavile might have been tempted to pick a little later like others, but it was an assiduous decision to have the fruit in the vat by the 18 October and lock in that freshness. The palate is very well balanced with fine tannin, extremely well judged acidity, the new oak present at the moment but in proportion with the fruit. This is a stylish Le Tertre-Rôteboeuf, very sensual and luxuriant with layers of crushed strawberry, blood oranges and raspberry fruit. In a word...irresistible.
Proprietor François Mitjavile and his daughter, Nina, craft uncompromisingly gorgeous wines from a tiny cellar in Saint-Émilion that looks more like Burgundy than Bordeaux. Their 2016 Tertre-Rôteboeuf is a real head-turner. Sweet, voluptuous and racy to the core, the 2016 exudes depth in every dimension. This is one of the more overt, exotically ripe 2016s readers will come across. Then again, that is one of the signatures of Tertre-Rôteboeuf, one of the most deeply personal and unique, artisan wines readers will find in Bordeaux today. Harvest took place on October 14 and 18.
Yields were much lower here than elsewhere in Saint-Émilion in 2016. Mark Savage's 38th vintage as UK importer. François Mitjavile rang Mark because Pascal Delbeck suggested it. Very rich and heady. Rich and round and lovely. Completely different in structure from all other Saint-Émilions. Round and voluptuous. Thick and sweet but not heavy. Hugely sensuous.
St.-Émilion is the star of Bordeaux’s Right Bank, north of the Dordogne River. The rich red wines produced in St.-Émilion, based on Merlot and Cabernet Franc, are less tannic and generally more fruit-driven in flavour than the Cabernet-based wines of Left Bank. Merlot thrives on the plateaus high above the Dordogne, where the soil is filled with sand and clay, a perfect medium for creating opulent, fruit-forward wines. With a typically savoury character, St.-Émilion wines are sometimes called the “Burgundies of Bordeaux.” These refined reds, with loads of finesse, are elegant companions to beef, chicken, pork and duck.
The wines of St.-Émilion were not included in the famous 1855 classification of Bordeaux, which ranked wines of the Left Bank. In 1955, St.-Émilion published its own classification, based on soil analysis, wine quality and reputation of the properties. Unlike the 1855 classification, St.-Emilion’s system requires properties to continuously prove themselves. The list is revised regularly, most recently in 2012. There are two tiers within the classification, Premier Grand Cru Classé and Grand Cru Classé. There are currently just 18 Premier Grand Cru properties and 64 Grand Cru Classé properties.
The St.-Émilion appellation is home to hundreds of individual producers, enhancing the variety of wines made there. Many of the properties remain small, family-run enterprises, unlike the large châteaux of the Left Bank. The area is also the base of France’s controversial micro-châteaux or garagiste wine movement; these innovative winemakers operate outside the traditional classification system, making very high quality (and very expensive) highly extracted wines.