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.
This extraordinary Mouton should turn out to be the finest they have made since the monumental 1982 and 1986. In early tastings, Mouton often seems to tag along behind the other first-growths. Yet in 2006, there is no question that the Baronne Philippine de Rothschild gave carte blanche authority to her talented administrator, Philippe Dalhuin, to turn up the heat in 2006. Yields were a tiny 32 hectoliters per hectare, the harvest took place between September 20 and October 15, and a minuscule 44% of the crop made it into the grand vin (the lowest percentage in more than half a century). The final blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon and 13% Merlot is unusually high in Cabernet Sauvignon, but it possesses Mouton’s hallmarks of pure creme de cassis and flowers in addition to a toasty oak character. Profoundly concentrated, super-textured, and rich, Mouton’s powerful, full-bodied 2006 is unquestionably a strong candidate for 'wine of the vintage'. Kudos to Mouton’s winemaking team for fashioning this brilliant wine. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2050.
96 points, Wine Advocate, 2007
A sensational effort… exhibits a classic Mouton perfume of creme de cassis, flowers, blueberries, and only a hint of oak. 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. 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.
98 points, Wine Advocate, February 2009
Deep colour. Intense violet/dark chocolate/ liquorice aromas. The palate is fresh and concentrated with plenty of sweet fruit and deep set cassis/chocolaty flavours. The tannins are long, dense and slinky dry. It has lovely density, energy and minerality. A really impressive wine.
94-96 points, Andrew Caillard MW, Langton's
Dark and lustrous. Smells quite Lafite-like and haunting. Great scent and freshness with super-seductive texture. Lively and refreshing... Good stuff!
17.5/20 points, JancisRobinson.com (January 2010)
...the 2006 Mouton-Rothschild was really the wine that put winemaker Philippe Dhalluin on the map, in the sense that unlike the 2005 born in a great vintage, this 2006 had to transcend it. It remains one of the standouts of the growing season… As expected, the nose has quite brilliant delineation with blackberry, graphite, here an almost cold slate-like scent. The palate is harmonious with the carefully judged acidity, fine-grain tannin and immense detail on the finish.
96 points, Wine Advocate, January 2017
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.