|Subregion||France > Bordeaux > Right Bank > Côtes de Bourg|
Often close in quality to the same owner's top Saint Emilion, Le Tertre Roteboeuf. This Cotes de Bourg is head and shoulders the best wine of the appellation and very much a wine for those "in the know". A right bank wine, yet only 4 or 5 kilometres from Chateau Margaux as the crow flies. This vineyard is a south facing slope with well ventilated vines. The 20% of Cabernet Sauvignon vines here are over 50 years old.
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The 2019 Roc de Cambes has turned out brilliantly, offering up aromas of cassis, sweet berry fruit, cigar wrapper, first floor and rich spices, followed by a full-bodied, layered, elegantly muscular palate that's deep and concentrated, its fleshy core of fruit framed by ripe acids and ripe, powdery tannins. This is a terrific effort that may nip at the heels of the 2016. Despite its modest appellation, don't hesitate to cellar this, as Roc de Cambes is invariably better integrated and more interesting with a decade on the clock than on release. - drink 2027-2047
François Mitjavile acquired this 12.5-hectare estate in the Côtes de Bourg in 1987 in a bankruptcy sale, as a means to justify investment in additional vineyard material for Tertre Roteboeuf (prices prohibited expanding in Saint-Émilion itself). "We went to visit the vineyard after a friend told me about it, and when I saw that it was predominantly Merlot growing in clay soils, I felt like a fish in water!," he remembers. In the following years, he gradually remodeled Roc de Cambes along the lines of Tertre Roteboeuf: pruning low and in cordon, harvesting late and, since 1996, employing entirely new oak barrels (as has been the case at Tertre since 1985). The result is a wine that pushed the Côtes de Bourg to new levels: rather chunkier and more obviously structured than the more sensual, elegant profile of Tertre Roteboeuf, it would be a mistake to think of Roc de Cambes as an "entry level" wine that should be drunk first (indeed, if anything, of the two, Tertre is the more approachable young), and the truffle-like nuances that complement its rich fruit tones after a good decade of bottle age are well worth waiting for.
Tasted blind. Bit of spicy oak on the nose. Tannins a little rustic but some very sincere ripe fruit and no excess of acidity. Honest stuff. 14.5%
Drink 2026– 2036
The 2019 is a healthy 50hl/ha, with the blend 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Ageing will be in 100% new French oak as usual. Deep ruby in colour with sweet and full nose of blackberry, vanilla, grilled meats and cinnamon. The palate is initially voluptuous in sweet black fruit before a cut of rich and moutchoating tannins. This year the wine is chalky and dense on the palate, with impressive power and ripeness. It will need a few years in bottle before reaching its peak, but the long, smoky and fleshy finish shows that there is ample depth in fruit.
85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc. Barrel sample.
Ripe, jammy fruit with a present but integrated toasty edge. Less expressive than some years (François Mitjavile conceded afterwards that it needed racking). Rich and round on the palate but there’s freshness as well. Tannins firm on the finish. On another day probably worth a higher score. (JL)
Drink 2026 – 2034