"I have often wondered about the underlying impulse that caused us, owners of the world's finest wines, to join together in Primum Familiae Vini. It is, I believe, because the spirit of family, the reason of our existence for each one of us, takes on a new form in our group, at the same time free, varied and friendly".
- Philippine de Rothschild (1933-2014) -
Wine as a work of art
Château Mouton Rothschild, a Bordeaux First Growth, spans 207 acres of vines at Pauillac. It benefits from ideal natural conditions and receives meticulous attention, combining respect for tradition with the most modern technology.
Mouton Rothschild was owned by Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, who died on 22 August 2014. Today, her son, Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, has succeeded her as Chairman of the family company's Supervisory Board and works closely with his sister, Camille Sereys de Rothschild and his brother, Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild, all three united in their commitment to their mother's work.
In 1853, Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild from the English branch of the family, bought Brane-Mouton and renamed it Mouton Rothschild. In 1922, his great-grandson Baron Philippe (1902-1988) took the destiny of the estate in hand. His reign was marked by his spirit of enterprise and sense of innovation: entire château bottling (1924); the building of the Grand Chai at Mouton (1926); acquisition of a neighbouring Cru Classé, Château d'Armailhac (1933); in the same year, acquisition of a wine-trading company, now Baron Philippe de Rothschild S.A., and creation of Mouton Cadet; since 1945, labels illustrated each year by great painters; opening of the Museum of Wine in Art (1962); acquisition of Château Clerc Milon, another Cru Classé close to Mouton (1970); official recognition of Mouton Rothschild as a Premier Cru Classé (1973); creation of the first premium Franco-Californian wine, Opus One, in partnership with Robert Mondavi (1979).
In 1981, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild created the travelling exhibition "Mouton Rothschild, Paintings for the Labels". In 1988, on Baron Philippe's death, Philippine de Rothschild assumed all his duties and responsibilities. At Mouton Rothschild she created a dry white wine, Aile d'Argent, in 1991 and a second wine, Le Petit Mouton, in 1994. She established a presence in other great regions with Premium Wines: Almaviva in Chile, in 1997, in partnership with Concha y Toro ; Domaine de Baron'arques in the Pays d'Oc, in 1998. Everywhere she modernised the facilities and equipment. Thus, in 2012, a splendid vat room designed and built by Richard Peduzzi and Bernard Mazières came into service at Mouton.
Today, the new owners Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, Camille Sereys de Rothschild and Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild, share the same ambition for Mouton's present and future: to continue to enhance its status as a First Growth wine, to keep it in the family from one generation to the next, and to preserve it as a place of art and beauty. All three being faithful to the Chateau's motto: "I, Mouton, do not change."
For more information, please visit the Château Mouton Rothschild website: www.chateau-mouton-rothschild.com
Mouton Rothschild, a classified First Growth, is located to the north-west of Pauillac. The vineyard, in a single sweep, has 84 hectares (207 acres) of vines.
The vineyard is situated on a brow, the "Mouton plateau", 27 metres above sea-level. The exceptional soil consists of very deep gravel on a limestone base. The undulations of the soil ensure that water runs off towards the Gironde, a form of natural drainage ideal for the vine.
The Mouton Rothschild vineyard is planted with typical Médoc varieties:
- 80% Cabernet Sauvignon
- 16% Merlot
- 3% Cabernet Franc
- 1% Petit Verdot
The average age of the vines is 44 years.
The vine density is high. With 10 000 vines per hectare, Mouton Rothschild perpetuates long-standing methods for growing high-quality vines. The vineyard is managed in the purest Médoc tradition.
The winegrowers are responsible for the same parcels every year, under the supervision of a vine manager. After pruning the vines are tied, then in spring the young shoots are trained between the wires to obtain orderly rows. This allows the tractors to work the soil without harming the crop.
Leaf removal is practised during the summer to give the grapes better exposure to sunlight and help them to mature. In some years the crop may be thinned in July so as to eliminate superfluous clusters and hence improve the concentration of those that remain.
The harvest date is a vital decision, prepared with our analytical and research laboratory, which monitors the progress of the crop from day to day. The grapes are also analysed by taste directly from the vine. The ideal moment for picking is determined according to their sugar content, acidity, colour, tannin and texture.
Picking is done entirely by hand, and the grapes, collected in 12-kilo open baskets, are thus kept intact. The grapes from the younger vines are harvested first and vinified separately. Before destemming, the grapes are hand-sorted then selected one by one.
Vinification depends on each vintage and the characteristics of each vat. All the relevant parameters, such as temperature, pumping over, aeration, vatting time and running off, are monitored by the technical manager and the cellar-master.
The wine is matured in new oak barrels.
Racking is carried out every three months until the wines are fined in the traditional way using egg-whites.
The wines are château-bottled about two years after the harvest. The exact time may vary by several weeks from one vintage to another: only the wine decides. The cellar-masters and winemakers must learn how to converse with the wine and bring out all its qualities, its harmony, its power and the blackcurrant and berry fruit flavours typical of Mouton.
At Mouton Rothschild everything, from vine management to bottling, is a matter of experience, of observation, of patience. But rigour, technology, experiment and research are the essential complements to this human endeavour.
For more information, please visit the Château Mouton Rothschild website: www.bpdr.com