CHATEAU MOUTON ROTHSCHILD
Originally founded in the 18th century, since 1853 this famed Pauillac property has been owned by the Rothschilds, starting with Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild (of the famous banking family). Baron Nathaniel bought then Château Brane-Mouton but changed the name in order to serve his own wine to his guests. In 1922, Baron Nathaniel's great-grandson, Baron Philippe de Rothschild took over. During his 65 years at the helm, he oversaw many significant developments, including the building of a massive barrel hall and the tradition of commissioning a different artist to design the label for each new vintage of Mouton. Baron Philippe also expanded the family's portfolio, purchasing nearby Clerc Milon and Armhailac in the 1970s and 1980s and collaborating with Robert Mondavi to launch Napa’s Opus One.
However, most consequential was his 50-year campaign to reclassify Mouton-Rothschild as a first growth (famously memorialized in the motto “Premier ne puis. Second ne daigne. Mouton suis” - 'First, I cannot be. Second, I do not deign to be. Mouton I am'). In 1973, he became the only proprietor to have the 1855 classification successfully amended when Mouton was granted first growth status (commemorated in the changed motto of “Premier je suis. Second je fus. Mouton ne change.” - 'First, I am. Second, I used to be. Mouton does not change.').
The estate’s 84 planted hectares average 45+ years and are on gentle hills believed to be responsible for the estate's name (motte and mothon are archaic French words for 'mound'). Unsurprisingly, the vineyard terroir is outstanding - deep, well-draining gravel soils, with excellent sun exposure, and the moderating influence of both the Atlantic ocean and the nearby Gironde estuary. Grapes are picked and sorted by hand after which they are transferred via gravity to vats – approximately 2/3rds oak with the remainder stainless steel.
The blend is typically around 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. It spends up to 20 months maturing in new oak barrels.