“Great wine is an aromatic bomb of music”
The Philosopher Wine Maker Francois Mitjavile
Describing great wine as "an aromatic bomb of music," Francois Mitjavile's approach to winemaking is as unique as his philosophy. Renowned wine critic Jancis Robinson characterizes tastings with Francois as unforgettable experiences, marked not only by the exceptional quality of his wines but also by his "philosophical stream of consciousness narrative," reflecting deeply on each wine and vintage.
My first encounter with Francois was as memorable as his wines. He expressed a keen interest in discussing James Joyce's "Dubliners," which was unfortunately on my leaving cert curriculum..
Francois's views extend beyond literature to the world of wine, particularly the Grand Cru Classé system. He famously declined the invitation by the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine to have his wines considered for classification, stating simply, "No, merci," before hanging up. He doesn't align with the conventional Classé system.
Despite this, his Tertre Roteboeuf, not officially recognized in the Classé system, has been acclaimed by critics like Jancis Robinson as equal, if not superior, to other Grand Cru Classés. Wine Advocate Robert Parker lauded Francois when he emerged as a wine icon in 1985. Decanter magazine has noted that even in off vintages, like 2013, Francois's wines are exceptional. Tertre Roteboeuf, a Saint Emilion Grand Cru, is situated on a 5.5-hectare hill previously grazed by cattle, which lends the vineyard its name. The vines are planted in cool white limestone soil, and are famously harvested late - 140 days after flowering, compared to the typical 100 days. This leads to intensely ripe and concentrated juice. The combination of low yields, extended fermentation, and 18 months in oak results in wines that balance power, freshness, structure, and finesse - a hallmark of Tertre Roteboeuf.
Seeking more land, Francois discovered a chateau with similar terroir overlooking the Garonne, not in Saint Emilion but in Cote de Bourg. He believes that excellent terroir stands on its own, regardless of classification. This led to the creation of Chateau Roc de Cambes and its sister Domaine de Cambes, both distinct wines from different parcels of land. Mitjavile doesn't produce second wines. Chateau de Cambes comes from the top of the hill, the "sugar loaf," while the Domaine de Cambes vines are at the bottom, closer to the river with more clay in the soil. Francois emphasizes the importance of terroir, prolonged vegetative ripening, and the role of oxygen during barrel aging, stating, "Oxygen helps civilize the wine."
His three wines are iconic, each distinguished by the vintage. We have selected the renowned 2015 vintage, noted for its "character of fresh ripeness." It's a perfect representation to compare the distinct terroirs, philosophies, and the enchanting charm of Francois Mitjavile's winemaking.
Click & Collect Locations
Roc de Cambes - 2015
The Roc de Cambes 2015 is a Bordeaux masterpiece. Deep garnet hue, it offers aromas of blackberries, plums, and cedar. Silky tannins complement rich flavors of dark fruit, spice, and t...
Domaine de Cambes 2015
The Domaine de Cambes 2015 is a Bordeaux gem. Its deep, ruby-red hue introduces enticing aromas of black cherries, violets, and subtle oak. On the palate, it delivers ripe fruit, earthy n...
Chateau Le Tertre Roteboeuf - 2015
Full-bodied, the palate is completely filled with dense, earth-laced black fruit layers, supported by exquisitely ripe, fine-grained tannins and fantastic tension, finishing long and minerally. Very energetic and so singularly p...