Tertre-Roteboeuf Saint Emilion 2012
The story of Tertre Roteboeuf began in the early 18th century, about 1730, when the traditional farmhouse on the estate was constructed, and estate was known as Le Tertre. In the modern era, Tertre Roteboeuf was first owned by François Mitjavile’s future father-in-law. In 1961, after he passed away, the vineyards were inherited by his daughter Miloute. Wanting to learn about Bordeaux wine making, François Mitjavile started his wine career at another St. Emilion estate, Chateau Figeac in 1975. Two years later, he returned to Le Tertre. At that time he decided to change the name of the property. He did this by giving the wine a second name. He added the word Roteboeuf to Le Terte and Le Tertre Roteboeuf was born. The logic behind this was to separate the estate from the numerous Right Bank chateaux already using the word Tertre in their name. His plan was to make the name of the chateau stand out. The name, Le Tertre Roteboeuf which is loosely translated into “Hill of the belching beef,” pays hommage to a time when the property was probably used for cattle to graze.
The first vintage of Le Tertre Roteboeuf produced by François Mitjavile was the 1978. While the estate is not what you would call modern, some of the first changes made by Francois Mitjavile was to begin the practice of using a portion of new, French oak to age the wine. Prior to François Mitjavile taking over Tertre Roteboeuf, the wines were never aged in new oak barrels. That changed starting with the 1985 vintage when the wines were aged in 50% new, French oak barrels for the first time. In a few years, the wine of Tertre Roteboeuf would be aged in 100% new, French oak barrels, a practice they continue using today. Next, François Mitjavile began harvesting later, picking riper fruit and reducing the yields. François Mitjavile soon began moving to using organic, sustainable, vineyard farming techniques. It took only a few years until Tertre Roteboeuf became known as one of the top wines of the St. Emilion appellation. The turnaround began with the 1989 vintage. Since 1989, Tertre Roteboeuf has maintained their status as one of the best wines from Saint Emilion.
Tertre Roteboeuf is composed of 5.7 hectares of vines planted with 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. The Merlot-vines are on average 45 years old, while Cabernet Franc ones are 50 years average. The subsoil consists of four different kinds of clay, which are resting on the bed of lime-stones. This combination of subsoil which is typical for the majority of vineyard in Saint-Émilion "Côtes" (slopes), is described as "cold soil", because clay needs a long time to be warmed up, and lime-stones are always humid and cold. It means that grapes get the opportunity to get maximum advantage of the sun and reach perfect maturity very late. This cold soil is suited for Merlot, but not for Cabernet Sauvignon, which rather prefers the so-called "hot soil" (gravel and quartz pebbles, which reflect sun-heat at vines), which is present in Haut-Medoc and Graves.
VinousThe 2012 Tertre-Roteboeuf is without question one of the wines of the vintage. Remarkably vivid for such a big, super-ripe wine, the 2012 boasts superb nuance and delineation from start to finish. Dense, powerful and explosive, the 2012 is a real head-turner, but it is also going to need at least a few years to shed some baby fat. Still, the 2012 is impressive, even today. With time in the glass the aromas open up and tannins soften a touch, both indications of what is in store for those who can wait. The October 10 harvest was very much in line with the norm here. Tertre-Rôteboeuf is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. The 2012 spent 18 months in 100% new French oak barrels.