Mouton-Rothschild is famous on so many different levels. From the different artists’ work that adorn each vintage label release, to the exuberant character of the late Baroness Philippine de Rothschild and her father Philippe, to its place in the Bordeaux hierarchy and of course to the utterly wonderful wine it makes.
Originally known as Château Brane-Mouton, it was renamed by Nathaniel de Rothschild in 1853 when he purchased it. Just two years later the great classification of Bordeaux for the Exposition Universelle in Paris was created. Nathaniel had begun a series of sweeping changes to improve the property and its wines and recapture the status for which they had been noted for centuries. But the changes weren’t complete when in 1855 the Médoc classification awarded Mouton-Rothschild status as Deuxième Grand Cru Classé. This lead to a long battle to have Mouton recognised for its true worth, which was finally achieved in 1973 by Baron Philippe de Rothschild. The wine was elevated, the first and only change to the classification ever made. The label of 1973 reads: ‘Premier je suis. Second je fus. Mouton ne change’– ‘First, I am. Second, I used to be. Mouton does not change’. Fittingly, somehow, 1973 was the year of Picasso’s death, and so it is his painting that adorns this ever-so famous label.
“The Rothschilds of Château Mouton-Rothschild have been some of the most dynamic, visionary figures in the wine world, unwilling to accept second place and perpetually focused on the horizon. Who else could have rewritten the supposedly unalterable 1855 Classification of Bordeaux to join the select inner circle of first-growths?”The Wine Spectator
Although Mouton means ‘sheep’, and the property and its wine label is flamboyantly endowed with a great deal of ram and sheep motifs, the word actually came from ‘small hill’. It is this hill that provides the perfect exposure to the sun for the vines to create the bottled-magic that is Mouton Rothschild.Each year's labels were designed by a famous artist of the time, Motherwell, Warhol, Setsuko and Francis Bacon to name a few. In 2008 Chateau Mouton Rothschild chose a Chinese artist, Xu Lei in order to capitalise on its popularity with the Asian wine lovers since the number 8 is considered extremely lucky in Chinese culture.
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