One of the very greatest estates of Bordeaux, Château Mouton Rothschild is in the commune of Pauillac in the Haut-Medoc, 50km north-west of the city of Bordeaux. Its Château wine or ‘grand vin’ is among the world’s most highly-rated and expensive. Excluded from the highest rank (Premier Cru or First Growth) of the famous Bordeaux Classification of 1855, Mouton was finally promoted in 1973 after decades of lobbying by Baron Philippe de Rothschild, who ran the estate from 1922 until his death in 1988. Mouton was first in the region to bottle at the estate, rather than shipping its wine to merchants for bottling elsewhere.
Since 1924 artists including Braque, Dali, Picasso, Henry Moore, Miro, Chagall, Kandinsky, Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, David Hockney and Lucian Freud have been commissioned to produce artworks for the Mouton label. Mouton, uniquely among the First Growths, remains in the hands of the same family as it was at the time of the 1855 Classification. The vineyards are on slopes with gravel-based soils leading down to the Gironde estuary and total 75ha – 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. The Château wine is (unusually) fermented in large oak vats and then matured in new oak barrels for between 19 and 22 months. Total production of the ‘grand vin’ is 20,000 dozen or less. There is a ‘second wine’, Le Petit Mouton, established in 1993. The ‘grand vin’ is noted for its flamboyance – exotic, powerful aromas of cassis, minerals, tobacco leaf and graphite, an opulent palate and impressive length of flavour.
What an amazing red. It's so very youthful with toasted oak, light vanilla, and dark berries such as currants and blueberries. Then it turns to mint. This is so fresh and intensely fruity. It lasts for minutes on your palate with each sip. It is so powerful yet elegant. It will improve for hundreds of years. I would still leave it in my cellar for five or 10 years. If you need to drink it, decant it three to four hours in advance. 100 points, James Suckling (11/2010).
This wine remains one of the legends of Bordeaux. It has thrown off the backward, youthful style that existed during its first 25 years of life, and over the last 4-5 years has developed such secondary nuances as cedar and spice box. The crème de cassis, underlying floral note, full-bodied power, extraordinary purity, multilayered texture, and finish of over a minute are a showcase for what this Chateau accomplished in 1982. The wine is still amazingly youthful, vibrant, and pure. It appears capable of remaining fruity and vibrant in 2082! Thank God it is beginning to budge, as I would like to drink most of my supply before I kick the bucket. This is a great, still youthful wine, and, on occasion, one does understand the hierarchy of Bordeaux chateaux when you see the complexity and brilliance of this first-growth. 100 points, The Wine Advocate (6/2009)
Deep ruby-red with a hint of amber at the rim. Cassis, licorice, minerals, tobacco and cocoa on the complex nose; this has started to develop more tertiary aromas and is less fruit-forward than just a few years ago. The palate shows considerable sweetness and an almost opulent mouthfeel, with blackcurrant and blackberry flavours given lift and clarity by harmonious acidity and complexed by graphite, tobacco and underbrush notes. The extremely long finish features a cool minty note and sweet, ripe tannins, but I also found a hint of astringency at the back that I had not tasted in previous bottles of this wine. A blockbuster wine, and still remarkably young: I can see this improving and lasting for another 40 years. This is a truly monumental wine and the best first growth of 1982, but I found this particular bottle to be a bit less explosive and rich than some other examples I have tried over the years. 98 points, International Wine Cellar (8/2011).
Glorious aromas. Dark ruby red. Wonderful perfumes of flowers, berry and lilac. Full-bodied, with silky tannins and a long and pretty finish. Balanced. Class in a glass. 98 points, Wine Spectator (6/2001).
Extremely dense blackish garnet. Some evolution at the rim. Really intense, complex and spicy on the nose -- very Mouton! Rich and balsam. Masses of density on the palate and still some tannin in evidence. Gunmetal. A really slow burner. 19/20 points, jancisrobinson.com (10/2016).
Pauillac is Bordeaux’s most acclaimed appellation, the only one with three Premier Cru properties: Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Mouton-Rothschild and Château Latour. These and other Pauillac chateaux produce robust, full-flavored and long-lived red wines made from Cabernet-based blends. Though winemaking techniques and microclimates vary throughout Pauillac, producing some variations in style, classic Pauillac wines have juicy flavours of blackcurrant and cedar, often with coffee, chocolate and graphite notes. Pauillac, part of the Médoc region on Bordeaux’s Left Bank, has gravelly and well-drained soils that force vines to grow long and strong roots. Struggling a bit for water, the vines produce grapes with high tannins and concentrated juices. Nearby rivers and the Atlantic Ocean modulate temperatures, preventing the grapes from ripening too quickly. Such grapes make powerful wines that may age and improve for decades. However, in Pauillac, as in other old-world wine regions, some winemakers are working to develop softer red wines that maintain the local wines’ traditional substance and flavours, but are more approachable immediately upon release.