Château Mouton Rothschild
Classification: First Growth
Château Mouton Rothschild dates back to 1311 when it was owned by the Knight Pons de Castillon. It was in English hands by the 15th century when it was gifted to the Duke of Gloucester, the younger brother of Henry V, but returned to French hands after the Hundred Years War. There are 2 stories of how the Château got its name one is that it is from the gravel “motte” or hill that it is situated on and the other is that it is from the French word “mouton” for sheep due to the grazing pasture that surrounds the estate.
The Château was bought by Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild in 1853 but was classified as a second Growth in the 1855 classification – perhaps due lack of a grand château or because Mouton was now in foreign hands ( Nathaniel was of the English branch of the Rothschild family). However it seemed clear that an error had been made.
After Baron Nathaniel's death in 1870 his son, Baron James, built a small Château and named it Le Petit Mouton, which is now also the name of Mouton's second wine. It was Baron Philippe who transformed the future of Mouton. During his 65 years he revolutionised wine making in Bordeaux: one of his first actions was to change to bottle the wine at the château. In the past the norm was to sell the wine in barrel. A new chai was designed where the wine would be housed after fermentation but prior to bottling. The new bottles were to bear labels designed by famous artists and were signed by Philippe himself as a guarantee of quality from the château.
He also rectified the château's classification in 1973 by campaigning until the French Government passed a decree conferring the status of First Growth on Mouton. The labels on the bottles now read: “Premier je suis, second je fus. Mouton ne change, or First I am, second I was. Mouton does not change. Today the estate is run by Baroness Philippine de Rothschild who has continued to improve the château's wines as well as expanding abroad, creating Opus One in California and Escudo Rioja in Chile.
The vineyards of Château Mouton Rothschild lie on gravelly soil over a subsoil of sand and clay which lie on limestone bedrock. They are sit on a mound or motte 40m high and the average age of the vines is 50 years old. The grapes grown are 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot. There are also Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle, for the estate's white wine.
Château Mouton Rothschild's wine are concentrated and intense with notes of dried black and red fruits, spice, black currants, raspberries, caramel, minerals and oak. The wines are creamy with good depth and complexity. They are polished, firm and weighty wines but are well balanced.
Owner: Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA ( also owns Châteaux d'Armailhac, Clerc Milon)
Château Website: www.bpdr.com
Oenologist: P Dhalluin