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.
"The 2017 Mouton Rothschild has one of the highest percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon ever at 90%, with 9% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot. Very deep purple-black in colour, the nose is already singing of crushed black currants, warm blackberries and chocolate-covered cherries with hints of violets, star anise, cinnamon stick and cloves plus wafts of pencil lead and unsmoked cigars. Medium-bodied, wonderfully delicate yet intense in the mouth (gaining some richness in the mid-palate on my second taste two and a half weeks later), it has super fine-grained, smooth tannins and incredible freshness, finishing very long with tons of tightly wound layers. Wow. This vintage is going to be very long-lived in the cellar!"
97-99 points, Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW
"90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot, harvested 7–29 September.
Healthy, glowing deep crimson with soft cherry rim. Rocky/smoky cassis lift to the aroma. Fragrant with sober and non-exotic fruit. Serious. Super-fine texture, appears gentle but is very persistent, so fresh and effortless and yet intense and long. Refined and accessible but long term too. Drink 2027-2047"
18 points, Julia Harding MW, jancisrobinson.com
"The 2017 Mouton-Rothschild was picked from 7 to 29 September and matured in 100% new oak. This First Growth is driven by the Cabernet Sauvignon, as you would expect given the high percentage, expressive pencil lead and cedar that infuse the slightly introspective black fruit. Dare I say that it actually reminds me of Latour in style? The palate is medium-bodied, finely tuned and precise, a more masculine Mouton-Rothschild compared to the last three vintages, fresh with a sustained, lightly spiced finish that lingers in the mouth. That backbone is accentuated more during my second visit in mid-April. It is a cliché but this Mouton-Rothschild is unashamedly “classic” in style, perchance “le petit frère” of the 2010 Mouton-Rothschild that also contained a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon (though before you search the archives, yes, the 2011 and 2012 contained the same proportion!) Tasted twice with consistent notes."
94-96 points, Neal Martin
"The 2017 Mouton Rothschild is a powerful wine for the year, probably because of the high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. Dense and closed in on itself, the 2017 is likely going to require quite a bit of time to soften. Raspberry jam, pomegranate and blood orange add lift and perfume with time in the glass. There is quite a bit of energy and brightness in the 2017, but not as much immediacy as is common for the vintage. That may ultimately turn out to be a positive for the wine's long-term prospects. The blend is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot. "After the frost, which did not really affect us, the major challenge in 2017 was heat stress," Mouton Technical Director Philippe Dhalluin told me. "We had no rain until the end of June. Then, in September, when we needed a bit of rain again, we got more than double what would have been optimal. The September rain affected the Merlot and Cabernet Franc, while the Cabernet Sauvignon was able to take advantage of the last 15 days of the growing season, which were much more favourable. In the cellar, we opted for longer macerations at lower temperatures, as we wanted to avoid extracting the type of hard tannins that mark other vintages with very dry summers, such as 2011."
92-95 points, Antonio Galloni
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.