A small wine-village with a huge reputation worldwide is Pauillac. This village lies near water. It’s is on the left bank of the department Gironde. Some very famous chateaux are in ore nearby this place.
But they are all part of Pauillac. The best chateaux in this area have the status ‘Grand Cru’. For more information see: https://www.penderswijnen.nl/culinaire-verhalen/the-classification-of-bordeaux-wines. One of the top five wineries, in a beautiful surrounding and with an outstanding reputation, is Mouton Rothschild. This winery is known of course for its exquisite wine and…. the second thing is art. Every year the label of the chateau Mouton Rothschild wine is designed by a well-known painter. The only Dutch painter and sculptor which designed (in 1994) a label for Mouton Rothschild was Karel Appel.
This winery is also called a chateau although there’s no castle to be seen. Strange don’t you think? In fact in the beginning these wineries weren’t called ‘chateau’. The French Bourgeoisie from Bordeaux started (with their snobbish traits) to call their houses ‘chateaux’ to give them more prestige. This happened after the swamps were drained around Bordeaux. It was the Dutch engineer Jan Adriaanszoon Leeghwater (1575-1650) who was responsible for draining these swamps.
In a publication of the 19th of august 1921 the term ‘agriculture exploitation’ was used for the first time.So at that time you could find the name chateau on a wine-label. This term meant that you had a cultural self-reliance and you had all the elements to produce your own wine. To start with own vineyards, buildings, hardware etc.
The name of the chateau Mouton Rothschild was given by the owner Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild. He wanted to serve his own wine to his distinguished guests. At an auction he buys Chateau Brane- Mouton and he will give it his own name: chateau Mouton Rothschild. In 1924 the great grandson of Nathaniel, Baron Philippe de Rothschild decided that he no longer sells the wines in barrels but now in bottles. In that year he asked Jean Carlu (a graphic artist) to design the first label. In 1926 a 100 meter chai (the Great Barrel Hall) is built. It’s very impressive to see.
Finally in 1981 Baroness Philippine (the only daughter of Baron Philippe) is going to show the original artwork, made for the labels, to the public. I was so lucky to see the small museum they made in one of the buildings with all the originals in it. That room is not open for everybody.
In 1984 Baron Philippe de Rothschild dies. The estate goes to his daughter and her three children Camille, Philippe and Julien. Philippine becomes the leading lady of the family-business. She dies in 2014. Nowadays her children conduct the company.
Perhaps Mouton Rothschild is not the most exclusive wine but at an auction in 2006 twelve bottles of the year 1945 were sold for $ 290.000 and six magnums (a magnum is two bottles) of the same year for $ 340.000. At that time it becomes the most expensive wine in the world.
Later in 2012 a vat room was made in Chateau Mouton Rothschild. It looks like a work of art. On our tour they showed us how you can see how mush depot there’s in the wine.
And at the end of our tour we got the 2018 wine to taste. The wine of the latest harvest, not yet bottled, you call a ‘primeur’ in French.
On to the next winery in Saint Julien….