April 29, 2020
NEW ARRIVALS: The “Hill of Belching Beef” Delivers the Insider’s Bordeaux! A Rare Offering of Under-the-Radar Wines from François Mitjavile and His Prized Tertre-Rôteboeuf Estate. It’s Our Quintarelli-Like Producer of Saint-Émilion.
“The tiny, cramped cellar looks much more like something one might see in Burgundy rather than in Bordeaux…one of the most deeply personal and unique, artisan wines readers will find in Bordeaux today.” - Antonio Galloni
What is the most difficult Bordeaux to find year-in and year-out? Many would cite Le Pin, Lafleur, or Petrus, but the truest cult or insider Bordeaux is not from Pomerol; rather, they are the inspirational wines of François Mitjavile from his two Bordeaux estates of Tertre-Rôteboeuf (Saint Emilion) and Roc des Cambes (Cotes de Bourg). In more than a decade of traveling and covering Bordeaux, I’ve found few estates or winemakers in the region that have made such a profound impact on many in the wine trade, including myself. This is not a glamorous or grand Château but instead a small country farmhouse with an artisanal winemaker who demonstrates the same passionate and humble approach as a Jacques Reynaud (Chateau Rayas), Bartolo Mascarello (Cantina Mascarello), or even Giuseppe Quintarelli (Quintarelli).
Much in the way that we found the wines of Quintarelli to be revelatory, there are few Bordeaux bottlings as unique as the organically produced Tertre-Rôteboeuf. These are pure, powerful, concentrated, fruit-driven wines bordering on the exotic, yet with so much balancing minerality and energy that you can’t help but stare at what’s in the glass in complete wonderment. This holds true in both great and challenging vintages, and I could not agree more with Antonio Galloni’s sentiment that this is “one of the most deeply personal and unique, artisan wines readers will find in Bordeaux today.” These are the “insider” and “in-the-know” wines of Bordeaux and we have put together a rare offering from the famed limestone plateau of Saint-Émilion. And while all eyes are on the coveted releases of perfection from 2016 and 2015, it is the 2010 that is the most captivating. François Mitjavile believes it is among is greatest expressions from the plateau, and many would agree.
Only a handful of merchants in the world can offer these limited production wines with this level of provenance. To put this in perspective, Tertre-Rôteboeuf produces a mere 2,000 cases of its flagship for the whole world, making back vintage selections truly scarce — we don’t even see them come into auction market! As such, the wines are priced accordingly. Please know these wines are highly allocated and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
New Arrivals: The Coveted Wines of Tertre-Rôteboeuf and Roc de Cambes (Click to Order)
If you get the rare opportunity to taste a back-vintage wine from François Mitjavile, you begin to understand the folklore around this producer. Sure, these wines will please today, but after having the 1989, you realize the depth these wines possess. I encourage you to read on and learn about this passionate artisanal producer that has more in common with Jacques Reynaud (Chateau Rayas) and Gianfranco Soldera (Soldera) than the neighboring Chateau Pavie that shares the famed limestone plateau. Here on the “hill of the belching beef” cattle once grazed, but this land is one of the finest positions for grapes in all of Bordeaux. Absent here is the marketing glitz or submitting wines for review; the passion is the grape and the vineyard. François is one of those rare producers where the wines are made from the hand and the heart, the timing and the location, and most of all, the personal experiences in the vineyard. You can literally see the years of commitment in François’ hands, the sun-drenched wrinkles on his forehead, the dirt in his nails; he has touched every vine and grape, and he knows the estate intimately from its humble beginnings back in 1961 to its current cult status. With his unique positioning, his organic approach and vineyard management, François is always one of the last to harvest in Saint-Émilion. These are just some of the reasons he achieves a richness, freshness, and rustic charm to his wines regardless of vintage. François takes a more Burgundian-like in his approach in his Bordeaux, from his vineyards to his tiny, cramped cellar.
François’ additional winery, Roc de Cambes, should not be overlooked. François has taken this estate, whose history dates back to the 1700s, to new heights. Located in the Cote de Bourg, across the Gironde River from Margaux, this little insider’s estate crafts wines that often outperform the top wines of Saint-Émilion. The flagship is a blend of old-vine Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
Additional Notes and Reviews:
“Tertre-Rôteboeuf (the “hill of the belching beef’)…Since the early 1980s, this has been one of the most distinctive, exotic, compelling wines made in St. Emilion. It is gorgeous to drink young, yet promises to age well for 15+ years in the finest vintage.” - Robert Parker
Christopher Deas, Italian Wine Merchants: "The wines of Terte-Rotebouef are unlike any other tasting during en primeur, but the beauty of the wines comes with age and this 2010 is simply in the right spot. Much like the artisanal wines of Quintarelli or Rayas, they are explosive. The aromatics here fill the room and are well worth the price of admission. There is no denying, these are big, exotic wines, but they are not cloying or sappy, as there is awesome underlying minerality and energy from the limestone plateau. They are a major departure from the Grand Cru Classe of the Left Bank and are more likely to please a fan of Rayas and Quintarelli. Expect to find black cherries, black licorice, cassis, fig, lavender, herbs, bittersweet cocoa, beef bouillon, blood orange, and chalky minerality. What an awesome wine experience it is to taste Terte-Rotebouef with ten years of age. It is a must experience for those looking to try another side of Bordeaux."
Neal Martin: “Bottled in August, the Le Tertre-Rôteboeuf has a deep garnet colour. The nose is tightly coiled, much more laconic than the 2009 at this stage, but offers a pixelated bouquet of brambly black fruit (rather than the more usual red), blood orange and orange sorbet, with just a touch of crushed stone. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins. It is very well balanced, quite understated and perhaps subtler than either the 2008 and 2009 Le Tertre-Rotebeouf(s), with a great deal of tension towards the finish. Like a person about to utter something profound...but prefers to keep you waiting several years. Cellar this wine and perhaps broach the 2009 before considering the follow-up.” 3/2013
2016 Roc de Cambres
Antonio Galloni, Vinous: "The 2016 Roc de Cambes was mighty impressive from barrel. Bottled in August 2018, it has retained a beguiling bouquet of perfumed red plum, blueberry, tayberry and light estuarine scents, plus a tang of a cold northern sea. The palate is medium-bodied with a sweet candied opening, dark chocolate and even toffee subtly interwoven into the red fruit. The spicy finish features a healthy sprinkling of black pepper. This is an outstanding Roc de Cambes that, dare I suggest, is going to give Tertre-Rôteboeuf a run for its money."
Antonio Galloni, Vinous: “The 2016 Tertre-Rôteboeuf is flat-out stunning and also one of the wines of the vintage. Rich, deep and explosive, the 2016 possesses remarkable depth and intensity from the very first taste. The 2016 is exotic, full-throttle and unapologetically hedonistic. At times, Tertre-Rôteboeuf can be a bit rough around the edges, but the 2016 is totally sublime. In a world in which so many wines are copycats, Tertre-Rôteboeuf is an original. And the 2016 is a great, emotionally moving Tertre-Rôteboeuf. This is a magnificent effort from François and Nina Mitjavile. Don't miss it!”
Antonio Galloni, Vinous: “A heady, exotic wine, the 2015 Tertre-Rôteboeuf exudes richness and intensity. Super-ripe dark cherry, plum, espresso, chocolate, spice and licorice infuse this voluptuous, racy Saint-Émilion. Dense, powerful and explosive, it just gets better and better with time in the glass. Super-ripe cherry and plum fruit are laced with scents of tobacco, licorice, incense and white truffle that add nuance. What a gorgeous wine this is! Proprietor François Mitjavile isn't afraid to be a contrarian. While many estates opt for shorter aging, Mitjavile gives his wine two full years in 100% new oak and also keeps the cellar on the warm side during the winter months. The 2015 was bottled in September 2017.”
Jeb Dunnuck: “The 2014 Tertre Roteboeuf is an exuberant, generous, incredibly sexy wine in a vintage they yielded more classic, straightforward efforts. Boasting a deep ruby/plum color as well as a rockin’ bouquet of espresso, spice-box, blackberries, new leather and Asian spice, this ripe, medium to full-bodied, layered 2014 has terrific purity of fruit as well as an undeniable hedonistic, opulent personality. It’s one of the stronger wines in the vintage and can be drunk now or cellared for 15+ years.”
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All my best,