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.
The 2017 Tertre-Rôteboeuf is once again one of the wines of the year. Deep, unctuous and concentrated, the 2017 is wonderfully rich from start to finish. Inky dark cherry, chocolate, licorice and cloves all open up in the glass. The 2017 is going to need a few years to soften, as the tannins are pretty imposing, and yet all the elements are in place for it to develop into a great wine. Tertre-Rôteboeuf remains one of the most distinctive wines in all of Bordeaux. Wow.
One of the wines of the vintage is the 2017 Chateau Tertre Roteboeuf, which has much more fruit, opulence, and sexiness than just about every other wine out there. Based on 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc from a fabulous terroir on the famed Saint-Emilion Cote Pavie, it reveals a saturated purple color as well as awesome notes of black raspberries, cassis, jammy blackberries, white chocolate, and tobacco. With plenty of classy oak, full-bodied richness, and a dense, powerful style on the palate, it needs at least 4-6 years of bottle age and will keep for 15-30 years or more. It’s a stunning effort from the genius of François Mitjavile.
97 points, JebDunnuk.com (February 2020)
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.