Thursday, December 4, 2014

Spanish Artist Miquel Barceló Designed the Château Mouton Rothschild 2012 Label, Bordeaux

Picture: The Château Mouton Rothschild 2012 Label Designed by Spanish Artist Miquel Barceló

Each year, the esteemed French wine producer Château Mouton Rothschild chooses a master artist to create a label. The 2012 artist is Miquel Barceló, the fifth Spanish artist to create a label for Château Mouton Rothschild, after Salvador Dalí in 1958, Joan Miró in 1969, Pablo Picasso in 1973 and Antoni Tàpies in 1995.

See also:
French Artist Guy de Rougement Designs Château Mouton Rothschild 2011 Label
The Label of 2010 Château Mouton-Rothschild Designed by Jeff Koons from New York City, Bordeaux
The label of 2007 Chateau Mouton Rothschild designed by Bernar Venet

Château Mouton Rothschild in Pauillac

The Château Mouton-Rothschild vineyard totals 84 hectares. In terms of red grapes, 80% is Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. There is also Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle, for the estate's white wine. The wine is fermented in oak vats (they are one of the last châteaux in the Médoc to use them) and then aged in new barrique barrels.

Pictures: Château Mouton-Rothschild in Pauillac

Baron Philippe de Rothschild

The birth of Château Mouton-Rothschild took place in 1853, when Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild - from the English line of the Rothschild family - purchased the estate - which was called Château Brane-Mouton - and renamed it using his name. The estate was in English hands in the 15th century but returned to French hands after the 100 Years War.

It was under Baron Philippe de Rothschild - who was only 20 years old, when he gained control of the property - that winemaking and wineselling at Château Mouton-Rothschild – and in general in Bordeaux – changed drastically.

The Baron was the first Bordeaux winemaker to insist on bottling all his wine at the estate. This new practice created a need for more storage at the property. In 1926, the Baron constructed the famous Grand Chai, the majestic 100-meter first year cellar, which has become a major attraction for visitors to Mouton.

The now famous series of labels designed by artists started in 1945.

In the 1930s, long before the idea of second wines had become standard practice, the Baron created a second wine for Mouton, Cadet de Mouton. It quickly became Mouton Cadet, first a blended wine, then a branded wine (again the first of its kind in Bordeaux) and is today the largest selling French branded wine in the world.

Finally, in 1973, Mouton was elevated to premier grand cru en 1855. The Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855 was largely based market prices. It was established by the negociants of Bordeaux. Despite the market prices for their wines equaling that of Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Mouton Rothschild was excluded from premier grand cru status, possibly because the estate was not in French ownership.

Baroness Philippine de Rothschild

Baron Philippe de Rothschild had one child, Baroness Philippine Mathilde Camille de Rothschild, who was the head of the Mouton Rothschild portfolio until her death in August 2014.

Baroness Philippine had 3 children: Camille Sereys de Rothschild (born 1961), Philippe Sereys de Rothschild (born 1963) (with Jacques Noël Sereys, a French theatre director and actor, with whom she was married from 1961 to 1999, and Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild (born 1971) (Jean-Pierre de Beaumarchais, a biographer and scholar, with whom she was married when she passed away.

Her personal wealth was estimated at €190 million by Le Nouvel Economiste.

The Mouton-Rothschild Portfolio

Like Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild is now a mix of privately-owned chateaux, international joint ventures and commercial branded wines:

Château Mouton-Rothschild (grand vin)

Petit Mouton (second wine): 6,000 cases

Château d’Armailhac: In 1933, the Baron purchased a neighboring vineyard, Château Mouton d’Armailhacq. The property was renamed Château d’Armailhac in 1989 by his wife, the Baroness Philippine. Part of the reason for the purchase was, the estate came with a Bordeaux negociant firm which eventually became known as Baron Philippe de Rothschild S.A. 17,000 cases.

Château Clerc Milon: 13,000 cases

Mouton Cadet: Bordeaux’s oldest and largest branded wine, with 15 million bottles sold each year across 150 countries.

Opus One: In 1980, the Baron entered into a joint venture with Robert Mondavi to create Opus One Winery in Oakville, California, now co-owned with Constellation Brands. 25,000 cases.

Almaviva: In 1997, Château Mouton Rothschild teamed up with Concha y Toro of Chile to produce a quality Cabernet Sauvignon-based red wine in a new winery built in Chile's Maipo Valley. 10,000 cases.

Château Mouton-Rothschild in Pauillac and Mayor Amschel Rothschild in Frankfurt am Main

The roots of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, Chateau Lafite-Rothschild – and the Rothschild empire in general – are in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Towards the end of the 18th century Mayer Amschel Rothschild, a money changer from Frankfurt am Main, born in 1744, had five sons and decided to install them in the five major European centers of the time.

* Amschel Mayer Rothschild (1773–1855): Frankfurt - died childless, passed to sons of Salomon and Calmann
* Salomon Mayer Rothschild (1774–1855): Vienna
* Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777–1836): London
* Calmann Mayer Rothschild (1788–1855): Naples
* Jakob (James) Mayer Rothschild (1792–1868): Paris

Picture: The House of the Rothschilds in Frankfurt am Main

The Rothschild brothers became one of the major forces in the far reaching changes that swept through Europe, while their father had not been allowed to purchase land outside of the Frankfurt am Main ghetto. During the 19th century, they were the bankers to monarchs and governments, bankers to Napoleon’s Europe and then in the industrial area the builders of the modern economy through their investment in railways. Baron Philippe, who died in 1988, belongs to the London branch of the large Rothschild family.

Labels Designed by Artists

The custom of having an artist design each year the label of the Mouton Rothschild wine goes back to the year 1924, when Chateau Mouton Rothschild was ready to release its first vintage bottled at the Chateau itself.

Until then, wineries sent their wine in casks to wine merchants in the city of Bordeaux, who then undertook the responsibility of stocking the casks for the two-year aging process, before bottling the wines. Although labels had been in use since the middle of the 19th century, they served merely to provide basic information about the wine contained in the bottle--or what, at any rate, was supposed to be in the bottle.

Pictures: Selection of Château Mouton Rothschild Labels

Rothschild commissioned for the occasion the popular poster designer Jean Carlu to design a label. Carlu's cubist-inspired label shocked the wine community--Philippe Rothschild was to scrap the label design only two years later--but nonetheless succeeded in calling worldwide attention to the new era of Rothschild wines. In the years leading up to the World War II, the Rothschild chateau continued to experiment with its wine labels.

France's capitulation to the Nazi invaders and the installation of the collaborative Vichy government nearly spelled disaster to the Rothschild wine business. The chateau itself was occupied by the Nazis and made a German headquarters, while the Vichy government placed operations of the vineyard under its agricultural department's control. Philippe Rothschild and his family were captured--Rothschild's wife was killed in a Nazi death camp--but Philippe Rothschild managed to escape, finally joining up to fight with the Free French army under General Charles de Gaulle.

Returning to his chateau after the war, Philippe Rothschild decided to allow his first post-war vintage to celebrate the Allied victory. Rothschild asked friend Philippe Julian to design a new label for the 1945 vintage. Based on Churchill's famed V-sign, the label sparked a new era for Mouton Rothschild.

Philippe Rothschild, who had already been among the pioneers in recognizing the marketing potential of a wine's label, now decided that the label for each year's vintage was to feature an original piece of artwork--commissioned from Rothschild's circle of friends, only some of whom were artists. Yet all received the same payment: five cases from that year's vintage, plus five cases chosen from the Rothschild cellars.

In 1955, the Rothschild label took on a still more serious role. That year's label featured a design from famed painted Georges Braque. From then on, the Rothschild labels were to become a showcase for the world's top contemporary artists.

Miquel Barceló Label for the 2012 Vintage

Among the other artists to have created a label for Mouton Rothschild are Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Georges Braque, Juan Miró, Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud.

Last year, French painter and sculptor Guy de Rougemont designed the 2011 label featuring snake-like lines running the color gamut from yellow, orange and red to blue and deep purple.

American neo-pop artist Jeff Koons designed the 2010 label for the estate featuring a silver line drawing of a ship sailing under a bright sun over a Pompeii fresco of The Birth of Venus.

The 2012 vintage label of Miquel Barceló depicts two rams on their hind legs, matching each other's strength, against a hazy watercolor background of greens and blues.

Picture: Miquel Barceló

Born in Majorca in 1957, Miquel Barceló has risen to prominence in the past two decades. His work was exhibited at the Paris Museum of Modern Art in 1996 and the city's Louvre museum displayed his watercolors in 2004. In 2008, he created and painted a dome roof worth an estimated €18m at the United Nations' Palace of Nations in Geneva.

Future Labels

Baroness Philippine de Rothschild’s youngest son, Julien de Beaumarchais, is to take over from his mother in choosing the artists for Mouton Rothschild’s famous labels as of the 2014 vintage (the label for the 2013 vintage was still chosen by Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, but the choice has not yet been made public). De Beaumarchais, who studied art history, said he would make his decision ‘in consultation with the family’. The move comes despite the Baroness' other son, Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, being named as president of the supervisory board of Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA, following on from his mother.

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