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. Starting with the 1985 vintage, the wines were aged in 50% new oak barrels. In a few years, Tertre Roteboeuf would be aged in 100% new, French oak, a practice they continue using today. Next, he began picking riper fruit, reducing the yields and began moving to an organic, sustainable, vineyard farming technique. It took until the 1989 vintage, before Tertre Roteboeuf became known as one of the top wines of the St. Emilion appellation.
The vineyards of Tertre Roteboeuf are located in the southeastern sector of St. Emilion. They are not far from Chateau Troplong Mondot, Chateau Larcis Ducasse and Chateau Pavie. The limestone and clay based vineyards of Tertre Roteboeuf are planted to 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. On average, the vines are 40 years of age. Due to a combination of personal preference and their naturally cooler terroir, Terte Roteboeuf is usually one of the last estates to finish harvesting in St. Emilion.
Mitjavile strives to pick late and continues to seek low yields. Vinification takes place in traditional cement vats. The wine of Tertre Roteboeuf is always aged in 100% new, French oak for 18 to 24 months. While most Bordeaux wine is sold through negociants, that is not the case with Tertre Roteboeuf. They sell their wine outside the traditional negociant system and prefer to sell their wine direct to importers and merchants. Interestingly, Tertre Roteboeuf goes their own way when it comes to the St. Emilion Classification as well. While they would easily be awarded Premier Cru Classe’ status, they prefer to remain unclassified. As the market sets the value and price, their decision has not hurt the wine as Tertre Roteboeuf remains one of the most expensive wines of the region.