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 is a great and impressive Mouton with plushness and precision. A million layers of tannins. It’s full and very friendly, even seductive, in a rich and opulent way, yet it always remains fresh. Balanced and refined. Nothing sticks out here. Every so fine-grained tannins provide flesh. Looking forward to seeing its evolution. 84% cabernet sauvignon, 13% merlot, 2% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot.
(99-100) points, JamesSuckling.com (May 2021)
The 2020 Mouton Rothschild is composed of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, with an alcohol of 13.1% and a pH of around 3.78. Deep purple-black colored, it starts off with subtle notions of fresh raspberries and blackberries, needing considerable swirling and patience to unlock its intense core of blackcurrant pastilles, rose oil, licorice and cardamom, plus touches of cedar chest, black truffles and crushed rocks. The medium-bodied palate is like a tightly coiled spring, possessing exhilarating tension and very firm, ripe, multi-grained tannins to frame the layer upon layer of black and red fruits intertwined with earthy and mineral accents, finishing very long and very fragrant. It is certainly the most coy, reticent and elegant grand vin of this trio of vintages (2018, 2019 and 2020), bearing Mouton's signature perfume, opulence and stylishness with great grace and sophistication as opposed to devil-may-care flamboyance. It's this gently teasing, achingly beautiful restraint that collectors are not going to want to miss.
(97-99) points, Wine Advocate (May 2021)
The tannins are carefully wrapped up and finessed, slowly but surely building in power and width, with concentrated blue and black fruits through the palate. Cabernet Sauvignon is dominant on the attack, with a deft, savoury and not overly exuberant delivery of flavour. As the slate and saline side builds up, you also feel a slowing down and a tugging back of the tannins. As the wine relaxes in the glass, it becomes more and more signature Mouton, full of exuberance, finesse and pleasure. There is less sweet black cherry fruit than in a year like 2018 or 2019, more on the cassis and bilberry side, it will behave in a more classical manner in the decades to come. 100% new oak. Harvest September 7 to 24. 2% Cabernet Franc completes the blend. Could go to 100 points after ageing. Drinking Window 2030 - 2050
98 points, Decanter (May 2021)
84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot. First vintage with Jean-Emmanuel Danjoy (formerly winemaker at Clerc Milon) at the helm. Cask sample.
Characteristic Mouton with its aromatic complexity and lift. Cassis, spice, chocolate and graphite notes to the fore. Lovely density of fruit. Powerfully structured with very fine tannins. A sense of verticality as it builds on the palate. Textured, clean and fresh. Clearly has more to give.
18.5 points, James Lawther, JancisRobinson.com (April 2021)
Dense purple-hued and a monster of a wine, the 2020 Château Mouton Rothschild checks in as 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, all of which hit 13.1% natural alcohol with a pH of 3.78. Classic Mouton notes of cassis and currant fruits give way to a more mineral-driven red offering loads of scorched earth, graphite, liquid violets, and crushed stone aromas and flavors. Gorgeously concentrated, full-bodied, and structured, with a firm tannic, inward style that relents with time in the glass, this is a serious Mouton that's going to need a decade of cellaring yet should be just about immortal.
(97-99) points, JebDunnuck.com (May 2021)
The 2020 Mouton Rothschild is sensual, delicate and polished. Bright floral notes lead into a core of sweet red cherry, cedar, mint, anise and blood orange. In 2020, the Mouton is a wine of unreal elegance and finesse. I can't wait to taste it from bottle, as I think there may be much more to it than it’s showing today. Technical director Jean-Emmanuel Danjoy noted that the 2020 was slow to extract because of its low alcohol (13.1%) compared with recent vintages.
(96-98) points, Vinous (June 2021)
The 2020 Mouton Rothschild is an intriguing proposition, aromatically speaking. Initially, it is less forthcoming than the last three vintages, but it’s just toying with you, eventually releasing captivating scents of blackberry, raspberry, crushed stone, touches of India ink and traces of violet petal. The oak is seamlessly integrated and these aromatics grow in stature with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with very lithe and finely chiseled tannins that frame the pixelated black fruit. Displaying wonderful mineralité and tension, this is a less exuberant and lavish Mouton Rothschild, perhaps, but more cerebral and intellectual than this First Growth during the 1990s. As smooth as Snoop Dogg's flow, this is a marvelous Mouton.
(96-98) points, Vinous (May 2021)
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.