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 is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc. Deep garnet-purple in color, it slowly unfurls to reveal notes of warm black plums, baked black cherries, kirsch and freshly crushed blackcurrants with hints of candied violets, cinnamon toast, Ceylon tea and pencil shavings. Medium-bodied, the palate is charged with amazing energy, featuring dynamic black and red fruits and loads of baking spice and mineral sparks, framed by ripe, fine-grained tannins and finishing long and fragrant. Given the intensity of fruit and structure, while this is a relatively elegant Mouton that will be approachable early on, I don’t see it as being short lived. It should give pleasure for a good 40+ years.
96+ points, Wine Advocate (November 2019)
Extremely perfumed Mouton with currants and crushed berries. Hints of roses and other flowers. Tight and extremely refined with ultra-fine tannins and cool yet rich currant character. The center palate offers sweet cherries and hints of oak. Lightly sweet and sour. Fresh, balsamic note. It firms up at the end. Solid. A blend of 90% cabernet sauvignon, 9% merlot and 1% petit verdot. Try after 2025.
98 points, JamesSuckling.com (December 2019)
The 2017 Mouton Rothschild is a powerful, brooding wine that very much reflects the high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. Not in the mood to show much, the 2017 is also very much closed in on itself. Time in the glass brings out hints of black cherry jam, wild flowers and spice, but that's about it. Readers will have to be patient with the 2017, but I am not sure Mouton will ever be an elegant wine in this vintage. Time will tell.
93+ points, Vinous (March 2020)
The 2017 Mouton-Rothschild is lucid in colour, quite deep like the Le Petit Mouton. It has a pixelated bouquet with precise blackberry, raspberry and crushed stone aromas, the oak seamlessly integrated so that the aromatics have unerring focus. The palate is medium-bodied with a graphite-tinged entry that is actually reminiscent of Latour in many ways. This Mouton-Rothschild is all about finesse and poise, the acidity beautifully judged and with superb tension on the finish. One of the finest Left Bank wines of the vintage, there are few 2017s superior to this.
96 points, Vinous (February 2020)
The top 2017 Chateau Mouton Rothschild checks in as 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, and 1% Petit Verdot that spent 18 months in new barrels. This rock star of a wine offers stunning notes of chocolately blackcurrants, toasted spice, and espresso roast, as well as loads of classic Pauillac lead pencil shavings and graphite nuances. It's another wine that starts out slowly yet builds incrementally on the palate with full-bodied richness, ripe, polished tannin, no hard edges, and a stunning sense of purity and elegance. Give bottles upwards of a decade and it will evolve for 30 years or more.
96 points, JebDunnuck.com (February 2020)
A brick house Cabernet, featuring a thick sheath of warm ganache and smoldering tobacco over a core of well-steeped black currant, black fig and blackberry compote flavors. Cuts a wide and deep trench as it moves along, with loamy, tannic grip for ballast. Retains a well-buried inner purity that should blossom as this mellows in the cellar. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Best from 2025 through 2040.
97 points, Wine Spectator (March 2020)
The hint of new wood still shows in the aroma of this wine. But on the palate, it has the richness and exuberance that comes with this great estate. Tannins show structure and intensity, bringing out the bold black fruits. Packed with freshness as well as structure, the wine will age well. Drink from 2024.
95 points, Wine Enthusiast (March 2020)
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.