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A dramatic, flamboyant nose of roasted espresso intermixed with chocolate fudge, blackberries, Asian spices, and kirsch jumps from the glass of this ostentatious effort. Full-bodied and layered, with an unctuous texture, gorgeous purity, and an undeniable hedonistic explosion of fruit and glycerin, it can be drunk now or cellared for 15+ years. To my taste, it is the finest Le Tertre-Roteboeuf since 1990.
The name Tertre Roteboeuf of this small Saint-Emilion property loosely translates to 'hill of the belching bullock', which is believed to be a nod to the estate's cattle-grazing past. The property has existed since the mid-18th century, but it was just called Le Tertre until 1978, when François Mitjavile and his wife inherited it from his father-in-law. He changed the name to differentiate it from other right-bank properties with 'Tertre' in their name, wanting his property to be unique, which is fitting as François himself is a true original who makes wine like no other in the commune. He always picks his grapes, grown unusually here in low-cordon trained vines, late when fully ripe and sometimes seemingly fragile.
The vines lie on a steep slope to the southeast of Saint-Emilion - not far from Pavie and Larcis-Ducasse - and have an average age of 45 to 50 years. The cool clay and limestone soils are perfect for Merlot, which accounts for 85% of the 5.7-hectare vineyard, and Cabernet Franc, which makes up the remaining 15%.