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.
Very smoky, with berry, coffee and tobacco aromas. Full-bodied, with polished, velvety tannins, plenty of fruit and a cedary aftertaste. Tight and compacted. This is better than the 2000 Mouton. It's a baby 1986 Mouton. Solid and very, very fine. Persists for a long time on the palate. 94 points, Wine Spectator (3/2004).
...complex on the nose with black cherry, blackcurrant and graphite aromas... very fleshy on the palate with chewy tannins and lots of fruit. This is still a reserved and structured Bordeaux, but with power lurking beneath. Still a baby. 94 points, jamessuckling.com (11/2015).
Very, very deep crimson. Very, very rich and full, and then very, very silky texture -- a winning combination. Definite spice. Very full and ripe. Round, satin-textured. Could do with very slightly more acid?! Quite a sudden end, but lots of work on texture rather than flavour. Very, very rich black fruits. Tannins are quite rigorous. Deeper, tougher and more dramatic than most. 18.5/20 points, jancisrobinson.com (4/2002).
...outstanding bouquet with notes of blackberry, wild hedgerow, graphite and a touch of orange peel. Great delineation and vigour, a little more generous than Lafite that overtakes after an hour in bottle. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins, superb acidity (and) great depth... Great mineralite on the tobacco and autumn-leaf finish. 94 points, Wine Journal (3/2011).
A blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc, the opaque purple-coloured, chunky 2001 Mouton-Rothschild does not possess the finesse and stature often achieved by this first-growth. It offers a tell-tale cassis-scented nose, and a monolithic, medium to full-bodied style with relatively high, austere tannin in the finish (a characteristic I also noticed in cask). A dry, angular, backward effort for the vintage, it should be forgotten for at least a decade. Let’s hope the fruit continues to expand and sweeten, but that’s no sure thing. Wine Advocate (6/2004).
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.