Francois Mitjavile is one of the most enigmatic and thoughtful winemakers in Bordeaux. His legendary Tertre Roteboeuf is a favourite amongst the wine trade and collectors alike. Francois is as generous with his time as he is with his wonderful old bottles. Long, reflective tastings in his rustic cellars discussing philosophy, music and culture are usually rounded off with a little tasting of one of his very ‘civilised’ wines, sometimes from a grand, mature vintage, at others from a vintage many might have written off – it hardly seems to matter, the wine is invariably delicious. It is only when you have tasted fully developed examples that one can appreciate the glorious complexity of these unique wines.
Since 1987, Francois has also owned Roc de Cambes in the relatively unknown Côtes de Bourg appellation. The limestone and clay slope here bears an uncanny similarity to Tertre Roteboeuf and the results display quite a resemblance too – not all that surprising when you consider that the philosophy and wine-making techniques are identical for the two properties. We were fortunate to re-taste the 2012 and 2009 Roc de Cambes; two gorgeous, complex, gourmand wines with very bright futures ahead. Don’t be put off by the little-known commune, these are exhilarating, multidimensional wines that never fail to impress.
The 2012 is surprisingly dense, but there is also a wonderful purity of fruit and plenty of finesse. As one would expect from one of Francois’ wines, the fruit is a paradox of damson fruit just the right side of hedonistic, with complex aromas of mocha and spice all gorgeously robed with sumptuous tannins. One of the staggering things about this estate is the consistency, especially in ‘challenging’ vintages. If you thought that would mean the ‘great’ vintages are disappointing; think again. The 2009 exceeds all expectation. Francois has ratcheted up the quality even further. This has all the hallmarks of a Mitjavile wine with even more concentration, more nuance, more power, more refinement, more ‘Sebastian Bach!’ - as Francois himself says.