Located in the village of Pauillac in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, Château Mouton Rothschild is the maker of one of the region's five first growth red wines. The estate's consistent quality and well-structured wines that can age for decades make the clarets from Château Mouton Rothschild among the most collected and well-known in the world.
History of Château Mouton Rothschild
Although Mouton Rothschild is classified as a first growth wine today, this wasn't always so. As a matter of fact, Château Mouton Rothschild holds the distinction of being the only Bordeaux upgraded to first growth status, which occurred in 1973. Originally, in what Baron Philippe de Rothschild called the "monstrous injustice," the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855 passed over the Château as a first growth, in spite of its similarity in price and quality to the four original first growth wines. Intense lobbying by the Rothschild family, however, righted the injustice and Château Mouton Rothschild now holds first growth status.
The Rothschild family originally purchased the estate, then known as Chateau Brane-Mouton in 1853, renaming it Château Mouton Rothschild. Although the European phylloxera epidemic in the late 19th century harmed many of the estate's vines, the winery rebounded. It produced powerful wines in the 20th century under the tutelage of Baron Philippe de Rothschild, who initiated the practice of bottling the wines on the estate, something that was unheard of in Bordeaux at the time. Following the Baron's death, care of the winery passed on to his daughter, the Baroness Philippine de Rothschild.
Château Mouton Rothschild produces quality red claret wines. Wines produced under the Château Mouton Rothschild label come from the choicest grapes from each vintage, while the estate's second wine Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild, uses those grapes not selected for the premier blend. The estate also produces Aile d'Argent, a white made from Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle. The red wines contain primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot added. The reds contain smoky flavors with red fruits and a cedar finish along with powerful, polished tannins. The white contains flavors of lemon curd and cut flowers. Reds can age for decades depending on the vintage and tannic structure.
Wines from Château Mouton Rothschild are universally well-received, and they earn high ratings from wine critics for consistent quality. Wine Spectator scores for both Château Mouton Rothschild and Aile d'Argent typically land in the lower to mid 90 point range, with some bottles achieving collectible status with a score of 95 points or higher. Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild typically garners respectable scores in the upper 80s to lower 90s. Good vintages for the flagship red wine include:
- 2010: Although not yet bottled, this vintage promises to be spectacular based on the growing season and early barrel tastings.
- 2009: Even better than 2010, Wine Spectator is estimating this wine will receive 97 to 100 points based on the barrel tasting.
- 2008: This vintage yielded a 94 point score from Wine Spectator for fig and black currant flavors with "mouthwatering acidity."
- 2007: This vintage is drinking early, and experts estimate it will hit prime drinking around 2013.
- 2006: With polished tannins and hints of coffee, this vintage earned a respectable 94 points.
- 2005: This one is collectible and intense with a miles long finish and a 95 point rating.
- 2004: This was the first vintage for the Chateau's new winemaking team, and it showed just how terrific the wines can be.
- 2003: The vintage produced a remarkably refined wine that's drinking really well in 2011 and beyond.
- 2001: Following the powerful 2000 Bordeaux vintage, many worried 2001 would be a let-down, but at Mouton Rothschild, they actually produced an even better wine than the year before.
- 2000: Across Bordeaux, this year was considered to be an amazing vintage with powerful wines built to age.
Where to Buy
As one of the first growth wines from Bordeaux, Mouton Rothschild is in demand and expensive. Bottles in good years sell for several hundred dollars, and more as they age and become rarer. Aile d'Argent is more affordable, at under $100 per bottle, and Le Petite Mouton typically costs between $100 and $200 per bottle. Because of the collectibility of the wines, they usually disappear from retail outlets quickly. Many collectors purchase futures, ordering the wine before it is bottled. The secondary market for all of Mouton Rothschild's wines remains strong, and your best bet is to either purchase futures from a Bordeaux wine retailer or look on auction sites such as WineBid to locate secondary markets. Wine Searcher can also help you locate any available bottles.
For many, purchasing first growth Bordeaux wines such as Mouton Rothschild constitutes a major investment. Others, however, feel it is well worth the price to have a collectible wine of consistent quality just waiting in their cellar for the perfect opportunity to pop the cork and share with friends and family.