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.
Deep colour. Intense beautiful cassis fig aromas with elements of strawberry and integrated mocha biscuity oak. Superb dark plum, cassis, fig fruit, espresso biscuity, creme brûlée oak, fine looseknit grainy persistent tannins, inky notes and long fresh acidity. Finishes cedar oaky and tannin firm with long pure fruit notes. Generous yet elegantly proportioned. Very good flavour length. A classic vintage with the complexity, substance and balance for the long haul. 100 points, Langton's.
This is a phenomenal, muscular red that shows incredible power and depth. Full-bodied and with great concentration of tannins but this remains agile and polished. The form to this is stupendous. Such precision and clarity. The new 1986 but better. 100 points, jamessuckling.com
On first impression, the 2016 Mouton Rothschild is incredibly reminiscent of the 1986, especially in its aromatics. On the palate, the 2016 naturally reflects the more finessed personality of the year as well as 30 years of continual refinements in vineyard and cellar work. Graphite, grilled herbs, smoke, crème de cassis, bittersweet chocolate and ripe plums are some of the many flavours that flesh out in the glass in an utterly captivating, exquisite Mouton that I had to taste twice and then directly from barrel because of its pure allure. Although it is early, the 2016 Mouton is shaping up to be one of the wines of the vintage. 95-98+ points, Vinous.
"The 2016 Mouton Rothschild bowled me over when I tasted it from barrel. Philippe Dhalluin compares it to the 1986 in terms of intensity of fruit, although there is more maturity and refinement in the tannins apropos of the 2016. Bottled in July 2018, this has an intense bouquet with pixelated black fruit, crushed stone, hints of blue fruit and a touch of India ink. But it is the delineation and focus that take your breath away. The palate is medium-bodied with very supple tannin framing the pure black currant and cassis fruit. The acidity is pitch-perfect, and there is a gentle but insistent grip toward the extraordinarily long finish. Racking my brains to think of another Mouton Rothschild that I have tasted over the last 20 years that was as good as this, I simply cannot come up with one. 2030-2080"
100 Points, Vinous
"Dark ruby, purple color. Aromas of blackcurrants, black truffle, crushed stone, licorice and hints of tar. Full-bodied, deep and vertical on the palate, drawing you in and down. The structure is very tannic and powerful, yet the tannins are folded into the wine. One of the most powerful Moutons ever for me. Try after 2027."
100 Points, JamesSuckling.com
'A towering, thrilling wine, the 2016 Mouton Rothschild is unbelievably beautiful today. Aromatics, fruit density and vertical structure all come together. In the glass, the 2016 is remarkably vivid and powerful, and yet a gentler, more feminine side emerges with time in the glass. The intense, mineral, savory profile recalls the 1986, but the 2016 has more grace, inner sweetness and sophistication than that wine. Even so, the 2016 is going to need at least a number of years in bottle before it starts drinking well, although it won't be the bruiser the 1986 remains to this day. This is breathtaking wine from Mouton, Tecnical Director Philippe Dhalluin and his team. 2026-2041'
100 Points, Antonio Galloni
The 2016 Mouton Rothschild is a blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, with the Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot vinified together. It has a very deep purple-black color and slowly slides out of the glass with spicy notes of Sichuan pepper, cloves and cinnamon stick giving way to a core of perfumed black fruits and florals—blackcurrant cordial, candied violets, blackberry compote, rose hips and black plums—plus suggestions of espresso, damp soil, tar and beef drippings. Medium-bodied, the palate is very firmly structured and jam-packed with latent energy about to burst, offering superbly ripe, grainy tannins and bold freshness to support the intense floral and black fruit layers and finishing very long and very minerally. Powerful, profound wine.
100 points, Wine Advocate (December 2018)
Along with the Château Lafite, the 2016 Château Mouton Rothschild is the wine of the vintage from the Médoc and is a truly profound, magical, blockbuster wine in every sense. It’s based on 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, raised in new French oak. Boasting a saturated purple color as well as an extraordinary bouquet of thick black fruits, lead pencil shavings, new saddle leather, and burning embers, with just a hint of its oak upbringing, this beauty hits the palate with a mammoth amount of fruit and texture yet stays fresh, pure, and light on its feet, with a thrilling sense of minerality as well as building tannins on the finish. It’s one of the most profound young wines I’ve ever tasted, and while it will probably keep for three-quarters of a decade, it offers pleasure even today. Bravo!
100 points, jebdunnuck.com (February 2019)
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.