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The grape mix is 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon with the all-important seasoning of 5% Malbec – a stunning wine and a perennial favourite. Fermentaton takes place in concrete vats before fifteen to eighteen months in oak, half of which is new. The wine tends to be dark and intense with a luscious cherried sweetness lifted by a stony minerality and a breezy freshness.
Bourg is richly steeped in history. Situated where the rivers Garonne and Dordogne meet, it was of particular strategic importance during the long and violent 100 Years War. It is believed that the cellars of Roc de Cambes, built in the 14th century, may well have played a role as a vantage point for an attack from the rear. The area is peppered with caves which have given up their military role in favour of more passive pursuits; mushroom growing and, in the case of Roc de Cambes, wine.
Once François Mitjaville had established Tertre Rôteboeuf, it was clear that its tiny production would always be a limiting factor in terms of any economies of scale. However, expansion within the great terroirs of St-Emilion would have been nigh on impossible – unavailable and, certainly, unaffordable. Through a mutual friend, François became aware of a possible property for sale in the Côtes de Bourg – an area whose reputation was largely blighted by failure to stifle naturally prolific production.
On seeing the property, the die was cast. Roc de Cambes has a wow factor in spades and despite a high price tag in appellation terms it still offers fabulous value for money. François was hooked.
In Bordeaux, the heat resulted in early flowering. Also, this led to an early harvest after a very hot summer. As a starting point, there is great maturity in the grapes, and one can expect a more opulent vintage than in the last few years.
The summer this year has been the warmest since 1959, yet the rain has fallen at the right times during the growing season. The harvest took place two weeks before the norm and will yield grapes with high potential alcohol and the lowest acidity since the 2003 vintage. As they say in Bordeaux: "It has been a good and extreme growing season which hopefully also produces great wines".