The Mitjavile Portfolio, 2014

Too long sitting on the back burner, these notes on wines tasted with François Mitjavile at Château Tertre-Roteboeuf now finally see the light of day. I tasted them during a visit to the château in April 2014, as a long week of Bordeaux primeur tastings (the 2013 vintage of course, something of a wet washout to be honest, although naturally not here at Tertre-Roteboeuf) drew to a close.

For those unfamiliar with the Mitjavile estates (which is understandable, as the wines fetch a price which puts them well above consideration as entry-level drinking), first a quick primer. François took over the running of Château Tertre Roteboeuf, which was originally in the ownership of his wife’s family, in 1977. The domaine was not a prestigious one, and the wines were made in the cellars at Château Bellefont-Belcier, those at Château Tertre Roteboeuf lying empty and unused. It was almost, therefore, as if François started from scratch. The going was tough at first, but in 1985 there was a breakthrough, when the 1982 vintage came top in a blind tasting hosted by a French magazine. Château Tertre Roteboeuf had “arrived”, and François hasn’t looked back since.

Château Tertre Roteboeuf

Both Roc de Cambes and L’Aurage were later additions to the Mitjavile fold. Roc de Cambes, in the Côtes de Bourg, was acquired in 1988. This 12.5-hectare estate is planted with 80% Merlot and the balance is Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. The soils are very basically the same as at Château Tertre Roteboeuf, clay and limestone, but the vineyard sits on a solid mass of rock overlooking the Dordogne rather than the fingery outcrop on which Tertre-Roteboeuf sits, and there is a more maritime Atlantic influence on the climate. The domaine yields two wines, Roc de Cambes (from 8 hectares of vines eligible for the Côtes de Bourg appellation) and Domaine de Cambes (from 4.5 hectares only eligible for the Bordeaux appellation).

L’Aurage (originally named Château Cadet) was purchased by the next generation, Louis Mitjavile, in 2007. The domaine sits on the road running out of the back of St Emilion down to the vineyards of Castillon, and indeed this estate has the Castillon-Côtes de Bordeaux appellation. There are 19 hectares of vines, 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, planted on the clay and limestone soils that dominate here.

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