It may surprise some to know that the name of this small Saint-Emilion property loosely translates to 'hill of the belching bullock', which is believed to be a nod to the estate's cattle-grazing past. The property has existed since the mid-18th century, but it was just called Le Tertre until 1978, when François Mitjavile and his wife inherited it from his father-in-law. He changed the name to differentiate it from other right-bank properties with 'tertre' in their name, wanting his property to be unique, which is fitting as François himself is a true original who makes wine like no other in the commune.
He always picks his grapes, grown unusually here in low-cordon trained vines, late when fully ripe and sometimes seemingly fragile. The vines lie on a steep slope to the southeast of Saint-Emilion - not far from Pavie and Larcis-Ducasse - and have an average age of 45 to 50 years. The cool clay and limestone soils are perfect for merlot, which accounts for 85% of the 5.7-hectare vineyard, and cabernet franc, which makes up the remaining 15%.
The grapes are fermented in temperature-controlled cement tanks before spending 18 months in 100% new oak barrels. The wines tend to be gorgeously scented, spicy and opulent when young, yet have considerable staying power, with the ability to age for between seven and 25 years. It has earned a very loyal following.