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Château Roc de Cambes : the junior Tertre Rôteboeuf

A recent tasting hosted by François Mitjavile and Corney & Barrow in London showcased 20 vintages of Château Roc de Cambes, from 1995 to 2015. Stephen Brook had the tough task of picking his top five...

François Mitjavile, the eccentric wizard who conjures extraordinary wines from Château Tertre Rôteboeuf in St-Emilion, was keen to expand his famous property in the late 1980s.

Unfortunately that wasn’t a feasible option in this costly part of Bordeaux, so he instead purchased a 14 hectare Merlot-dominated property in the less fashionable, and less expensive, Côtes de Bourg in 1988. Named Roc de Cambes, it had similar clay-limestone soils which intrigued Mitjavile, a south-facing exposure, and ample old vines.

The winemaking here echoes that at Tertre Rôteboeuf, with fermentation in cement tanks and long ageing in new barriques. The challenge here, he declared at a recent vertical tasting at Corney & Barrow, is to achieve full ripeness while retaining freshness and elegance. In this he succeeds admirably, and even the lesser vintages at Roc de Cambes can be outstanding.

Stephen’s top five Roc de Cambes:

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