Chateau Mouton Rothschild
|Listed Wines||Mouton Rothschild
Le Petit Mouton
|President||Baroness Philippine de Rothschild|
|Annual Production (Grand Vin)||20,000 cases|
|Classification||Grand Cru Classe|
|Second Wine||Le Petit Mouton|
|Interesting Fact||Originally known as Chateau Brane-Mouton, before being renamed by Nathaniel de Rothschild in 1853.|
Each year’s label of Chateau Mouton Rothschild was designed by a famous artist of the time and this is a significant aspect of the brand’s image with labels painted by Motherwell, Warhol, Setsuko and Francis Bacon to name but a few. It has been argued that the art of Mouton Rothschild lay on the label of the bottle rather than on the wine in the bottle. In 2008, Chateau Mouton Rothschild chose Chinese artist Xu Lei to design the label of its 2008 vintage in order to capitalise on its popularity with Asian wine lovers since number eight is considered to be an extremely lucky number in Chinese culture. The Rothschild family own two Grands Crus of Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Chateau Lafite Rothschild, the Cru bourgeois vineyard of Chateau Clarke and vineyards in the USA, South America, South Africa and China.
Mouton’s legendary status was secure by the 1945 vintage (RPJ 100). It was only a lowly Second Growth then, however, today it has been widely recognised as one of the world’s greatest wines. Robert Parker called it ‘one of the immortal wines of the century, with decades to go’. The 1986 Mouton Rothschild also received 100 points from Robert Parker and the 2009 vintage received 99+ points. In Neal Martin’s personal opinion, ‘the quality of Mouton-Rothschild is a notch below Chateau Latour and Chateau Lafite-Rothschild. It lacks the weight and structure of the former, the elegance of the latter. Like Chateau Margaux there are patches of inconsistency, particularly the 1970's that tarnished their reputation. It sometimes lacks breed, ostentatious rather than profound. But a great Mouton-Rothschild, of which there are many, is a sensational wine that can eclipse its contemporaries. Like Marlon Brando, when Mouton puts in a star performance it triumphs like no other: the 1945, 1953, 1982, 1986, 1995, 1989 and most recently 2002 are brilliant wines’.
The foundations laid by the late Baron Philippe de Rothschild in his 60 year ownership of the estate should not be overlooked. Upon assuming ownership in 1922, he wasted no time in imprinting his passionate and exuberant personality upon production processes at the chateau. Pioneering the then unheard of method of bottling all production at the Chateau, Baron Philippe strived for Mouton Rothschild to fulfil its potential and made it his mission to earn the desirable First Growth status. Chateau Mouton Rothschild was excluded from First Growth in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855 which was based on market prices for wines, even though Mouton was trading at an equal price to Chateau Lafite Rothschild at that time. It has been argued that the exclusion was due to the fact that the vineyard was owned by an Englishman rather than French. In 1973, Mouton was promoted to ‘First Growth’ after lobbying by its powerful owner and the motto was then changed to Premier je suis, Second je fus, Mouton ne change. (First, I am. Second, I was. Mouton does not change.)
Chateau Mouton Rothschild Price Analysis
Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pricing
Highest rated vintages for Chateau Mouton Rothschild
After stumbling over some wines I thought were high class Bordeaux, I nailed this wine in one of the blind tastings for this article. In most tastings where a great Bordeaux is inserted with California Cabernets, the Bordeaux comes across as drier, more austere, and not nearly as rich and concentrated (California wines are inevitably fruitier and more massive). To put it mildly, the 1986 Mouton-Rothschild held its own (and then some), in a flight that included the Caymus Special Selection, Stags Leap Wine Cellars Cask 23, Dunn Howell Mountain, and Joseph Phelps Eisele Vineyard. Clearly the youngest looking, most opaque and concentrated wine of the group, it tastes as if it has not budged in development since I first tasted it out of barrel in March, 1987. An enormously concentrated, massive Mouton-Rothschild, comparable in quality, but not style, to the 1982, 1959, and 1945, this impeccably made wine is still in its infancy. Interestingly, when I was in Bordeaux several years ago, I had this wine served to me blind from a magnum that had been opened and decanted 48 hours previously. Even then, it still tasted like a barrel sample! I suspect the 1986 Mouton-Rothschild requires a minimum of 15-20 more years of cellaring; it has the potential to last for 50-100 years! Given the outrageously high prices being fetched by so many of the great 1982s and 1990s (and lest I forget, the 1995 Bordeaux futures), it appears this wine might still be one of the "relative bargains" in the fine wine marketplace. I wonder how many readers will be in shape to drink it when it does finally reach full maturity? The tasting notes for this section are from two single blind tastings, one conducted in May, 1996, in California, and the other in June, 1996, in Baltimore.
The 2005 Mouton-Rothschild has developed magnificently, and is even better than I remember. The final blend was 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc. Stunning notes of crème de cassis, melted asphalt, roasted espresso and cedarwood are present in this young, full-bodied, powerful, concentrated Mouton. Just beginning to enter its adolescence, it should hit full maturity in 10-15 years and last for 50 or more. The greatness of this vintage is increasingly apparent as the wines throw off their cloaks of tannin.
The 2009 Mouton Rothschild has a striking label from Anish Kapoor. The wine is a blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Merlot that begs comparison as a young wine with what the 1982 tasted like in 1985 or, I suspect, what the 1959 may have tasted like in 1962. Representing 50% of their production, the wine has an inky purple color to the rim and not terribly high alcohol for a 2009 (13.2%), but that is reflected by the high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a remarkable nose of lead pencil shavings, violets, creme de cassis and subtle barrique smells. It is stunningly opulent, fat, and super-concentrated, but the luxurious fruit tends to conceal some rather formidable tannins in the finish. This is an amazing wine that will be slightly more drinkable at an earlier age than I thought from barrel, but capable of lasting 50 or more years. Kudos to the Baroness Philippine de Rothschild and the entire Mouton team, lead by Monsieur Dalhuin.
A sensational effort, the 2006 Mouton Rothschild exhibits an opaque purple color as well as a classic Mouton perfume of creme de cassis, flowers, blueberries, and only a hint of oak. Dalhuin told me that in whisky barrel-tasting vintages such as 1989 and 1990, Mouton was aged in heavily-toasted barrels, and they have backed off to a much lighter toast for the barrels’ interior. I think this has worked fabulously well with the cassis quality fruit they get from their Cabernet Sauvignon. The full-bodied, powerful 2006 possesses extraordinary purity and clarity. A large-scaled, massive Mouton Rothschild that ranks as one of the top four or five wines of the vintage, it may turn out to be the longest-lived wine of the vintage by a landslide. The label will undoubtedly be controversial as a relative of Sigmund Freud, Lucian Freud, has painted a rather comical Zebra staring aimlessly at what appears to be a palm tree in the middle of a stark courtyard. I suppose a psychiatrist could figure out the relationship between that artwork and wine, but I couldn’t see one. This utterly profound Mouton will need to sleep for 15+ years before it will reveal any secondary nuances, but it is a packed and stacked first-growth Pauillac of enormous potential. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2060+. Ever since owner Philippine de Rothschild put Philippe Dalhuin in charge at Mouton in 2004 there has been a dramatic reduction in the amount of wine produced under the Mouton Rothschild label. The selection process has been ratcheted up to the level of other first-growths, and that is reflected in what is clearly the greatest Mouton produced since 1982 and 1986. As I indicated in my barrel tasting notes, only 44% of the crop made it into the 2006 grand vin, which is the lowest percentage in more than fifty years. The final blend includes a high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon (87%) and the rest Merlot (13%). No Cabernet Franc was utilized in 2006, and purchasers will have a long wait until this wine reaches full maturity. Keep in mind that, where well-stored, the 1986 currently tastes like a 4-5 year old wine, and the 1982 is just beginning to enter early adolescence. If you extrapolate from that, the 2006 will need at least twenty years to reach a teen-age status, and probably will not hit its plateau of maturity for three decades.
The enormously endowed, backward, ferociously tannic, massively extracted 2010 Mouton-Rothschild exhibits an opaque blue/purple color as well as a tight but promising nose of incense, licorice, lead pencil shavings, vanilla, blackberries and cassis. Full-bodied in the mouth, extremely young, and tasting like a barrel sample, this remarkable effort requires 10-15 years of cellaring. It should age well for half a century or more.
Like many of its peers, the 1998 has filled out spectacularly. Now in the bottle, this opaque black/purple-colored offering has increased in stature, richness, and size. A blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc (57% of the production was utilized), it is an extremely powerful, super-concentrated wine offering notes of roasted espresso, creme de cassis, smoke, new saddle leather, graphite, and licorice. It is massive, with awesome concentration, mouth-searing tannin levels, and a saturated flavor profile that grips the mouth with considerable intensity. This is a 50-year Mouton, but patience will be required as it will not be close to drinkability for at least a decade. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2050.
Perhaps the most beautiful packaging ever on a Bordeaux bottle, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild literally produced a work of art in the gold-engraved bottle of 2000 Mouton Rothschild. Of course, one can’t drink the glass, but this is a top-flight Mouton Rothschild, eclipsed only by the 2006 and 2009. A rich, tannic, earthy style, with loads of creme de cassis and floral notes, the final blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Merlot is a full-bodied wine with plenty of coffee, earth, chocolatey notes, and still plenty of tannin to resolve. I gave it an anticipated maturity range of 2015-2050 back in 2003, and that looks on target.
Bottled in June, 1997, this profound Mouton is more accessible than the more muscular 1996. A blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 19% Merlot, it reveals an opaque purple color, and reluctant aromas of cassis, truffles, coffee, licorice, and spice. In the mouth, the wine is "great stuff," with superb density, a full-bodied personality, rich mid-palate, and a layered, profound finish that lasts for 40+ seconds. There is outstanding purity and high tannin, but my instincts suggest this wine is lower in acidity and slightly fleshier than the brawnier, bigger 1996. Both are great efforts from Mouton-Rothschild. Anticipated maturity: 2004-2030.
Backward, powerful, and extremely tannic, the dense purple-colored 2003 Mouton-Rothschild, a blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot, fashioned from yields of 28 hectoliters per hectare, with a finished alcohol of 12.9%, improves dramatically with aeration. With full-bodied, meaty, powerful, dry flavors as well as a huge finish, this high class wine should be at its finest between 2012-2040+. During its sojourn in barrel, it reminded me of a hypothetical blend of the 1982 and 1986 Moutons, but since bottling, it appears different, and even more tannic than those two vintages. I still believe the finest recent Mouton-Rothschild is the 2000.
The intensely ripe Cabernet Sauvignon grown on the plateau at Mouton has produced an inky/purple-colored wine with the famous Mouton creme de cassis and floral characteristics vividly displayed. For the first time in a number of years they appear to have outdistanced their cross street rival, the biodynamically farmed Chateau Pontet Canet of Alfred Tesseron. Wonderfully sweet tannins envelop the enormous fruit and extravagant richness of this full-bodied Mouton Rothschild. With profound density as well as surprisingly sweet tannin, this terrific effort will probably shut down slightly and require 5-8 years of cellaring after bottling. It appears to have 30 or more years of aging potential, making it potentially one of the 3 or 4 longest-lived wines of the vintage. Mouton Rothschild has produced one of the vintage's most profound wines in 2012, and possibly the -wine of the Medoc.- About 49% of the production made it into the 2012 Mouton, which is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. The harvest took place during the middle two weeks of October. This may be one of the few 2012s that comes close to equaling what was achieved in both 2009 and 2010, two far superior vintages.