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.
With its distinctive antique bottle and gold etched label dominated by a sheep, this is definitely a move away from classic Bordeaux bottling. It is good that the wine can support the presentation. The fruit is so ripe, it almost tastes of raisins, but that sweetness is finely balanced by the dry tannins and concentrated texture. To finish, there are exotic spices, giving an almost oriental character to the long aftertaste. 97 points.
Perhaps the most beautiful packaging ever on a Bordeaux bottle, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild literally produced a work of art in the gold-engraved bottle of 2000 Mouton Rothschild. Of course, one can’t drink the glass, but this is a top-flight Mouton Rothschild, eclipsed only by the 2006 and 2009. A rich, tannic, earthy style, with loads of crème de cassis and floral notes, the final blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Merlot is a full-bodied wine with plenty of coffee, earth, chocolatey notes, and still plenty of tannin to resolve. 96+ points, The Wine Advocate.
86% cabernet sauvignon, 14% merlot; 85% selection for the grand vin; 85% new oak. Bright deep ruby with the barest hint of garnet; still very youthful. Enticing, complex nose of cassis, smoky cedar, violet, underbrush and kirsch; very Pauillac, if in a ripe style. Dense, rich and suave in the mouth, with lively acidity nicely framing the rich flavours of blackcurrant, blackberry jam, milk chocolate, grilled bread and spicy underbrush. Finishes with noble tannins and outstanding chocolatey persistence. A great Mouton… 95 points, Vinous.
Rounded, fleshy and a bit extracted in feel, with dark plum, blackberry and fig jam flavours that flirt with a pruny edge, picking up lots of warm mocha, singed vanilla bean and ganache notes through the finish. This relies more on easy opulence than on depth or purity on the end. Drink now through 2023. 93 points (12/2015).
The nose is very intense, super-ripe and rich, verging on jammy. Notes of leather, spices and prunes. Full-bodied, soft and beautiful with ripe tannins and a long finish. This is soft and yummy... Drink or hold. 93 points, jamessuckling.com
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.