To get into Château Mouton-Rothschild is not easy. Annette succeeded this time and the Bordeaux-Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015) included a tour and tasting Château Mouton-Rothschild, Bordeaux, Appellation Pauillac, 1ière Grand Cru Classé.
Gerome Schwartz was our host. We toured the winery and tasted the 2014.
Château Mouton-Rothschild - as we know it today- came into existence in 1853, when Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild - from the English line of the Rothschild family - purchased the estate - which was then called Château Brane-Mouton - and renamed it using his name. It was when his great-grandson Philippe de Rothschild took control over the estate in the 1920s that winemaking and wine selling changed drastically. In 1924 he was the first one in Bordeaux to bottle all his wines at the Château. The custom of having an artist design the labels started with this first bottled vintage. Since then each vintage features an original piece of art commissioned from the Rothschild’s circle of friends. Baron Philippe also introduced the idea of a “second label” which is now the “Mouton Cadet”.
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.
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 wine selling 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 and her 3 Children
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).
Baroness Philippine de Rothschild’s youngest son, Julien de Beaumarchais, took 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). 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, was named as President of the Supervisory Board of Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA, following on from his mother.
Picture: From left to right, Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, Camille Sereys de Rothschild, Julien de Beaumarchais.(Photo: Deepix Courtesy Château Mouton Rothschild)
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.
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