Chapter 2.4.General View on Wine – Premiers Crus

During the years I come across some very interesting bottles …some I’ve hold , some … well , I just looked at thru a window  and on one or two which I’m not gonna name I really had the marvelous chance of opening and tasting them.They were from recent years – the ones I tasted – and they match the long , almost historical , reputation!

Here are the Premiers Crus / First Growths :

The Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855 resulted from the 1855 Exposition Universelle de Paris, when Emperor Napoleon III requested a classification system for France‘s best Bordeaux wines which were to be on display for visitors from around the world. Brokers from the wine industry ranked the wines according to a château‘s reputation and trading price, which at that time was directly related to quality.

The wines were ranked in importance from first to fifth growths (crus). All of the red wines that made it on the list came from the Médoc region except for one: Château Haut-Brion from Graves. The white wines, then of much less importance than red wine, were limited to the sweet varieties of Sauternes and Barsac and were ranked only from first great growth to second growth.

Within each category, the various châteaux are ranked in order of quality and only twice since the 1855 classification has there been a change, first when in 1856 Cantemerle was added as a fifth growth (having either been originally omitted by oversight or added as an afterthought, depending on which of the conflicting accounts is correct) and, more significantly, in 1973, when Château Mouton Rothschild was elevated from a second growth to a first growth vineyard after decades of intense lobbying by the powerful Philippe de Rothschild. A third, but less known “change”, is the removal of Château Dubignon, a third growth from Margaux that was absorbed into the estate Château Malescot St. Exupéry.

A superficial change is that since 1855, when only five of the estates were styled with the word “château” in their name, most Bordeaux wine estates now use this nomenclature.

As a classification of châteaux, the actual vineyards owned by some wineries have expanded, shrunk and been divided without any reclassification, and considerable plots of valued terroir have changed ownership.

Many wine critics have argued that the 1855 Classification became outdated and does not provide an accurate guide to the quality of the wines being made on each estate. Several proposals have been made for changes to the classification, and a bid for a revision was unsuccessfully attempted in 1960. Alexis Lichine, a member of the 1960 revision panel, launched a campaign to implement changes that lasted over thirty years, in the process publishing several editions of his own unofficial classification. Other critics have followed a similar suit, including Robert Parker who published a top 100 Bordeaux estates in 1985 and L’histoire de la vigne & du vin (English: The History of Wine and the Vine) by Bernard and Henri Enjalbert in 1989, as well as efforts made by Clive Coates (MW) and David Peppercorn (MW). Ultimately nothing has come of them, the likely negative impact on prices for any downgraded châteaux and the 1855 establishment’s political muscle are considered among the reasons.

In March 2009, the British wine exchange Liv-ex released a modern re-calculation of the 1855 classification, with an aim to apply the original method to the contemporary economical context.

Many of the leading estates from the Médoc appellation that were not included in the 1855 classification are classified as Cru Bourgeois, a classification system that has been updated on a regular basis since 1932, banned in 2007, but reinstated in 2010.

The Médoc Classification of 1855

In French Les Grands Crus classés en 1855. The estates are listed with their commune (village), and their AOC in parenthesis, if different from the commune. The 19th-century names appear as listed by the brokers on April 18, 1855, followed by the modern names, as the use of “second cru” for red wines and “deuxième cru” for white wines.

First Growths (Premiers Crus)

Château Lafite Rothschild

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild

Château Lafite Rothschild is a wine estate in France, owned by members of the Rothschild family since the 19th century. The name Lafite comes from the Gasconterm “la hite” meaning “small hill”.

Only four wine-producing Châteaux of Bordeaux achieved First Growth status in the 1855 Classification, which was based on recent prices. Of those, the first one in the list is Château Lafite Rothschild, a consistent producer of one of the world’s most expensive red wines.


1959 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild

Situated in the great wine-producing village of Pauillac in the Médoc region to the north-west of Bordeaux, the estate was the property of Gombaud de Lafite in 1234.In the 17th century, the property of Château Lafite was purchased by the Ségur family, including the 16th century manor house that still stands. Although vines almost certainly already existed on the site, around 1680, Jacques de Ségur planted the majority of the vineyard.

In the early 18th century, Nicolas-Alexandre, marquis de Ségur refined the wine-making techniques of the estate, and introduced his wines to the upper echelons of European society. Before long he was known as the “Wine Prince”, and the wine of Château Lafite called “The King’s Wine” thanks to the influential support of the Maréchal de Richelieu. Towards the end of the 18th century, Lafite’s reputation was assured and even Thomas Jefferson visited the estate and became a lifelong customer.

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild Bottles

Following the French Revolution, the period known as Reign of Terror led to the execution of Nicolas Pierre de Pichard on 30 June 1794, bringing an end to the Ségur family’s ownership of the estate which became public property. In 1797 the vineyards were sold to a group of Dutch merchants.

The first half of the 19th century saw Lafite in the hands of the Vanlerberghe family and the wine improved more, including the great vintages of 1795, 1798 and 1818. On 8 August 1868, the Château was purchased by Baron James Mayer Rothschild for 4.4 million francs, and the estate became Château Lafite Rothschild. Baron James, however, died just three months after purchasing Lafite. The estate then became the joint property of his three sons: Alphonse, Gustave, and Edmond.

The 20th century has seen periods of success and difficulty, coping with post-phylloxera vines, and two world wars. During the Second World War the Château was occupied by the German army, and suffered heavily from plundering of its cellars. Succeeding his uncle Élie de Rothschild, Lafite has been under the direction of Eric de Rothschild since 1974.

The record price at auction for a bottle of wine ($156,000) was for a 1787 Chateau Lafite which was once thought to be owned by Thomas Jefferson. The authenticity of the bottle has been challenged, and the controversy, which is still unresolved, is explored in the 2008 book “The Billionaire’s Vinegar”, by Benjamin Wallace.

Recently the 2008 vintage produced a world wide increase in price of over 125% in 6 months from release, which in turn has come to push some Asian countries to the top of the list of worldwide markets in which investment grade wine is purchased.

The vineyard is one of the largest in the Médoc at 107 hectares, and produces around 35,000 cases annually, of which between 15,000 and 25,000 are first growth. Its vines are around 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot, whereas the final wine is between 80% and 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% and 20% Merlot, and up to 3% Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Occasionally exceptions are made, such as the 1961 vintage which was 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.

In addition to the first growth, around a third of the wine is released as a second wine under the label Carruades de Lafite.

Across all vintages Lafite Rothschild is one of the most expensive wines you can buy. It has proved an incredibly profitable wine for investors, with the price of its 2005 and 2000 vintage fetching over £10,000 per case. Futures contracts for the 2008 Lafite Rothschild have returned investors over 100% on their investment within two weeks during May 2009.

Château Latour

Chateau Latour

Château Latour is a French wine estate, rated as a First Growth under the 1855 Bordeaux Classification. Latour lies at the very southeastern tip of the commune of Pauillac in the Médoc region to the north-west of Bordeaux, at its border with Saint-Julien, and only a few hundred metres from the banks of the Gironde estuary.

The estate produces three red wines in all. In addition to its Grand vin, Latour has also produced the second wine Les Forts de Latour since 1966, and a third wine, simply named Pauillac, has been released every year since 1990. An impériale (six-litre bottle) of Château Latour sold for £135,000 in 2011.


Chateau Latour Label

The site has been occupied since at least 1331 when Tor à Saint-Lambert was built by Gaucelme de Castillon, and the estate dating to at least 1378. A garrison fort was built 300 metres from the estuary to guard against attack during the Hundred Years’ War. The tower, the name mutating with time to La Tour en Saint-Mambert and Saint-Maubert, gave its name to the estate around the fortress and was in English hands until the Battle of Castillon in 1453, and its complete destruction by the forces of the King of France. The original tower no longer exists, but in the 1620s a circular tower (La Tour de Saint-Lambert) was built on the estate named after Simon Ledwidge and though it is actually designed as a pigeon roost, it remains a strong symbol of the vineyard. Though two centuries apart, this building is said to have been constructed using the original edifice.

Vines have existed on the site since the 14th century, and Latour’s wine received some early recognition, discussed as early as in the 16th century in Essays by Montaigne. Near the end of the 16th century, the estate’s several smallholdings had been accumulated by the de Mullet family into one property.

Chateau Latour Bottles

From 1670 began a lineage of connected family ownership not broken until 1963, when the estate was acquired by the de Chavannes family, and passed by marriage to the de Clauzel family in 1677. When Alexandre de Ségur married Marie-Thérèse de Clauzel, Latour became a part of his vast property, to which he also added Château Lafite in 1716, just prior to his death. In 1718 his son Nicolas-Alexandre de Ségur added Château Mouton and Château Calon-Ségur to his holdings and began producing wines of great quality. The widespread reputation of Latour emerged at the beginning of the 18th century when its status was established on export markets such as England, alongside chateaux Lafite, Margaux and Pontac.

With the death of Nicolas-Alexandre Ségur in 1755 the estate was divided among four daughters, three of whom inherited Latour in 1760, and with absent landlords, Latour was managed by a regisseur charged with efficient administration and thorough correspondence with the owners. Receiving more care than under the late owner whose favourite had been Lafite, Latour improved in the later half of the century, and later became a favourite of Thomas Jefferson, then minister to France, when he categorised La Tour de Ségur as a vineyard of first quality in 1787.

With the onset of the French Revolution, the property became divided. The Comte de Ségur-Cabanac fled France and his portion was auctioned off by the state in 1794, passing through several owners. The estate was not reunited until 1841, when the family succeeded in a plot to put the estate up for sale, and eventually emerged after an auction having regained the 20% shares owned by négociants Barton, Guestier and Johnston. The Société Civile de Château Latour was formed in 1842, exclusive to the family, who then had become shareholders.

Ahead of the International Exhibition in Paris, the selection of Latour as one of the four First Growths in the Classification of 1855 consolidated its reputation, and ensured its high prices. The present château was completed in 1864.

The estate has 78 hectares (190 acres) of vineyard, of which a 47-hectare (120-acre) portion near the château is named l’Enclos, where fruit exclusive to the grand vin is grown. The composition of grape varieties is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, and 2% of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

The grand vin Chateau Latour, typically a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, with the remainder Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, normally has an annual production of 18,000 cases. The second wine Les Forts de Latour, typically 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot, has an average annual production of 11,000 cases.

Château Margaux

Chateau Margaux

Château Margaux, archaically La Mothe de Margaux, is a wine estate of Bordeaux wine, and was one of four wines to achieve Premier cru (first growth) status in the Bordeaux Classification of 1855. The estate’s best wines are very expensive. The estate is located in the commune of Margaux on the left bank of the Garonne estuary in the Médoc region, in the département of Gironde, and the wine is delimited to the AOC of Margaux.

The estate also produces a second wine named Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux, as well as a dry white wine named Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux which does not conform to the Margaux appellation directives.


1961 Chateau Margaux Label

The estate has been occupied since at least the 12th century, with the site occupied by a fortified castle known as Lamothe or La Mothe (from motte, a small rise in the land), and wine under names such as “Margou” and “Margous” was known in the 15th century, but it was with the arrival of the Lestonnac family in the 16th century that wine production became of particular importance, and in the 1570s Pierre de Lestonnac expanded the property and cleared many of the grain fields to make way for vines.

The lineage of ownership was to continue in a relatively direct path from the Lestonnacs, though through the female side, with proprietors’ names such as d’Aulède, Fumel, d’Hargicourt, including an alliance of marriage with the Pontac family of Château Haut-Brion in 1654, which became crucial to the inclusion of Château Margaux among the four first growths.

1961 Chateau Margaux Bottles

By the beginning of the 18th Century, the estate comprised 265 hectares (650 acres) with a third devoted to viticulture, which is nearly identical to the modern layout. As with many of Médoc’s châteaux, the early 18th century saw the wine develop from a pale watery drink that faded within only a few years, to the dark, complex liquid that has been stored in cellars ever since, and a transformation was largely due to an estate manager named Berlon, who revolutionised techniques of wine-making by introducing novel ideas such as banning the harvesting in the early morning to avoid dew-covered grapes and subsequently dillution, and acknowledged the importance of soil quality in the various terroir found on the estate.

In 1771 wine from the estate became the first claret to be sold at Christie’s, and upon visiting Bordeaux in 1787, Thomas Jefferson made note of Château Margaux as one of the “four vineyards of first quality”.

Following the French Revolution, the owner Elie du Barry was executed by guillotine and the estate expropriated, eventually becoming the property of the citizen Miqueau who neglected its care and maintenance. Briefly rescued by Laure de Fumel, she was soon forced to sell, and in 1802 the estate was purchased by the Marquis de la Colonilla, Bertrand Douat for 654,000 francs.

The estate’s old château was torn down and completely rebuilt when Douat commissioned one of Bordeaux’ foremost architects, Guy-Louis Combes to create the buildings in the First Empire style, the mansion for the Marquis to move into by 1812.

It was sold in 1836 to the Spanish nobleman Alexandre Aguada, Marqués de la Marismas, for 1,350,000 francs, followed by a period responsible for most of the mansion’s decorations. It was sold by the Marqués’ son to Vicomte Pillet-Will in 1879, an era that ended in 1920 with the sale to a syndicate initially headed by the broker Pierre Moreau.

Château Margaux presentation card dated 1931, demonstrating the designs of the early 20th century, the label, cork, case and capsule markings.

Large portions of shares in the estate were bought by the Bordeaux wine merchant Fernand Ginestet (then owner of the adjacent Château Lascombes) in 1925, and the family share was gradually increased to allow his son Pierre Ginestet to take complete ownership in 1949. In 1965 Pierre Ginestet controversially declared a new estate policy that the vintage year would only be affixed to great vintages, while selling the wine of lesser years as non-vintage wine, like the customary practice of Champagne.

The domaine of Château Margaux extends 262 hectares (650 acres), of which 87 hectares (210 acres) are entitled to the Margaux AOC declaration. 80 hectares (200 acres) are planted with 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, with 2% Cabernet Franc and Petit verdot. 12 hectares (30 acres) are cultivated with Sauvignon blanc to make the dry white Pavillon Blanc.

The average annual production of the Grand vin, Château Margaux, is 150,000 bottles, while the second wine Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux has an average production of 200,000 bottles. The dry white Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux has a production of around 35,000 bottles, and must be sold under the generic Bordeaux AOC as the cultivation of Sauvignon blanc does not fall under the directives of the Margaux AOC. The remainder of the production, what is determined to be “lesser grapes”, is sold off in bulk.

Château Haut-Brion

Chateau Haut-Brion

Château Haut-Brion is a French wine, rated a Premier Cru Classé (First Growth), produced in the Gironde region. It differs from the other wines on the list in its geographic location in the north of the wine-growing region of Graves. Of the five first growths, it is the only wine with the Pessac-Léognan appellation and is in some sense the ancestor of a classification that remains the benchmark to this day.

In addition to the grand vin, Haut-Brion produces a red second wine, from the 2007 vintage renamed Le Clarence de Haut Brion in place of the former name Château Bahans Haut-Brion. There is also produced a dry white wine named Château Haut-Brion Blanc, with a limited release of the second dry white wine, Les Plantiers du Haut-Brion, renamed La Clarté de Haut-Brion after the 2008 vintage. Since 2003, Domaine Clarence Dillon’s daughter company Clarence Dillon Wines has also released the Bordeaux brand wine named Clarendelle.


Chateau Haut-Brion

Although grapes are thought to have been grown on the property since Roman times, the earliest document indicating cultivation of a parcel of land dates from 1423. The property was bought by Jean de Ségur in 1509, and in 1525 was owned by the admiral Philippe de Chabot.

The estate Château Haut-Brion dates back to April 1525 when Jean de Pontac married Jeanne de Bellon, the daughter of the mayor of Libourne and seigneur of Hault-Brion, who brought to him in her dowry the land. In 1533 bought the mansion of Haut-Brion, while construction of the château was begun in 1549.

2001 Chateau Haut-Brion Bottle

1649, Lord Arnaud III de Pontac became owner of Haut-Brion, and the wine’s growing popularity began in earnest. The first records of Haut-Brion wine found in the wine cellar ledger of the English king Charles II. During the years 1660 and 1661, 169 bottles of the “wine of Hobriono” were served at the king’s court. Samuel Pepys wrote in The Diarist, having tasted the wine at Royal Oak Tavern on April 10, 1663, to have “drank a sort of French wine called Ho Bryen that hath a good and most particular taste I never met with”.

In 1666, after “The Great Fire”, the son François-Auguste, opened a tavern in London called “L’Enseigne de Pontac”, or the “Sign of Pontac’s Head”, which was according to André Simon, London’s first fashionable eating-house. Jonathan Swift “found the wine dear at seven shillings a flagon“.

By the end of the 17th century the estate amounted to 264 hectares (650 acres) of which some 38 hectares (94 acres) were under vine. The wine was often sold under the name Pontac, though since the Pontac family owned numerous wine estates that could use the name, it is often impossible to tell when a wine came from Haut-Brion. Sometimes also spelled Pontack, another Pontac estate at Blanquefort which produced white wine would also often go by this name.

English philosopher John Locke, visiting Bordeaux in 1677, spoke of Haut-Brion, “…The wine of Pontac, so revered in England, is made on a little rise of ground, lieing open most to the west. It is noe thing but pure white sand, mixed with a little gravel. One would imagin it scarce fit to beare anything..” On the cause of its increasing costliness, he stated, “thanks to the rich English who sent orders that it was to be got for them at any price”. The German philosopher Hegel was also enchanted with the wine of Pontac, though it is unknown if his orders were for other de Pontac wines of Saint-Estèphe.

With the death of François-Auguste de Pontac, François-Joseph de Fumel, a nephew by marriage, inherited two-thirds of Haut-Brion with a third coming to Louis-Arnaud Le Comte, Lord Captal of Latresne. The de Fumel family also at one point owned Château Margaux.

In 1787, Thomas Jefferson, then American minister to France, came to Bordeaux. On May 25 he visited to Haut-Brion, describing the terroir, “The soil of Haut-Brion, which I examined in great detail, is made up of sand, in which there is near as much round gravel or small stone and a very little loam like the soils of the Médoc”. His notes placed Haut-Brion among the four estates of first quality, with the entry, “3. Haut-Brion, two-thirds of which belong to the Count de Fumel who sold the harvest to a merchant called Barton. The other third belongs to the Count of Toulouse; in all, the château produces 75 barrels.”Haut-Brion became the first recorded first growth wine to be imported to the United States, when Jefferson purchased six cases during the travels and had them sent back to his estate in Virginia.

As a consequence of the French Revolution, in July 1794 Joseph de Fumel was guillotined, and his holdings were divided.Posthumously, de Fumel’s nephews obtained a pardon for him as well as the restitution of the confiscated property, but they left France. In 1801, they sold Haut-Brion to Talleyrand, Prince of Benevento, owner of Haut-Brion for three years.

A less prosperous period followed between 1804 and 1836 under successive ownership of various businessmen, until Joseph-Eugène Larrieu bought Haut-Brion when it was sold by auction. In 1841, by buying the Chai-Neuf building from the Marquis de Catellan, he brought the estate back to the former size of the estate up until the death of François-Auguste de Pontac in 1694. Larrieu’s family owned Haut-Brion until 1923.

In the classifications of 1855 ahead of the International Exhibition in Paris, Château Haut-Brion was classified Premier Grand Cru, as the only estate from Graves among the three established First Growths of the Médoc. The prices of Haut-Brion in the 19th century were consistently higher than those of any other Bordeaux wine.


Château Haut-Brion devotes 48.35 hectares (119.5 acres) to red grape varieties, with a distribution of 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, and 2.87 ha (7.1 acres) to white grape varieties, distributed with 52.6% Sémillon and 47.4% Sauvignon blanc.

The vineyards are elevated, up to 27 meters, somewhat above the Bordeaux norm. The soil consists of Günzian gravel and some parcels have high contents of clay. All the vineyards are located in a cluster near the château itself and on the other side of the main road.

The selection of optimum rootstocks and clones has been a large task at Château Haut-Brion, pioneered by Jean-Bernard Delmas, which has greatly contributed to the quality of the plant material in the vineyard. The long-term aim has been to lower yields, not by green-harvesting but by ensuring healthy and balanced vines. The average age of the vines is approximately 35 years with the oldest parcels dating back to the 1930s, planted with an average vine density of 8000 vines/ha.

Harvesting takes place by hand and each parcel is worked by the same team of workers to increase the teams’ familiarity with the individual vines. The harvest of the white grapes takes place very early due to the proximity to the city of Bordeaux which results in a warmer microclimate and thus earlier ripening. The white grapes are picked as late as possible, sorted and then pneumaticly pressed in whole bunches. There is no skin contact and fermentation takes place in oak barrels with indigenous yeasts. After sorting in the field, the red grapes are destemmed, crushed and moved to a special double-tank with fermentation taking place in the top and malolactic fermentation in the bottom, using gravity to move the wine. Previously ageing took place in 100% new oak casks lasting 18 months. This has been reduced to 35% new casks and wine destined for the second wine Le Clarence is aged in 25% new oak. The white wine is aged in 40-45% new oak for 10–12 months. Château Haut-Brion has its own cooperage.

The annual production ranges from 10,000 to 12,000 cases (900 to 1,100 hl) of the red grand vin Château Haut-Brion, and from 650 to 850 cases (59 to 77 hL) of Château Haut-Brion Blanc. Of the second wines, the red Le Clarence de Haut-Brion previously named Château Bahans Haut-Brion, has a production of 5,000 to 7,000 cases (450 to 630 hL), and the white La Clarté de Haut-Brion, previously named Les Plantiers du Haut-Brion, has a production of 1,000 to 1,200 cases (90 to 110 hL).

Since 2003, Domaine Clarence Dillon’s daughter company Clarence Dillon Wines has produced the mid-priced wine Bordeaux brand wine Clarendelle. The brand range consists of a Clarendelle Bordeaux Rouge, a Clarendelle Bordeaux Blanc, a Clarendelle Bordeaux Rosé and a Clarendelle Monbazillac Amberwine.

Château Mouton Rothschild

Chateau Mouton Rothschild

Château Mouton Rothschild is a wine estate located in the village of Pauillac in the Médoc, 50 km (30 mi) north-west of the city of Bordeaux, France. Its red wine of the same name is regarded as one of the world’s greatest clarets. Originally known as Château Brane-Mouton it was renamed by Nathaniel de Rothschild in 1853 to Château Mouton Rothschild. It was the first estate to begin complete château bottling of the harvest.

The branch of the Rothschild family owning Mouton Rothschild are members of the Primum Familiae Vini.


1974 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild Label

The Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855 was based entirely on recent market prices for a vineyard’s wines, with one exception: Château Mouton Rothschild. Despite the market prices for their vineyard’s wines equalling that of Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Mouton Rothschild was excluded from First Great Growth status, an act that Baron Philippe de Rothschild referred to as “the monstrous injustice”. It is widely believed that the exception was made because the vineyard had recently been purchased by an Englishman and was no longer in French ownership.

In 1973, Mouton was elevated to “first growth” status after decades of intense lobbying by its powerful and influential owner, the only change in the original 1855 classification (excepting the 1856 addition of Château Cantemerle). This prompted a change of motto: previously, the motto of the wine was Premier ne puis, second ne daigne, Mouton suis. (“First, I cannot be. Second, I do not deign to be. Mouton I am.”), and it was changed to Premier je suis, Second je fus, Mouton ne change. (“First, I am. Second, I used to be. But Mouton does not change.”)

2007 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild Bottle

Château Mouton Rothschild has its vineyards on the slopes leading down to the Gironde Estuary, in the Bordeaux region, mainly producing grapes of the Cabernet Sauvignon variety. Today, Château Mouton Rothschild has 203 acres (0.8 km²) of grape vines made up of Cabernet Sauvignon (77%), Merlot (11%), Cabernet Franc (10%) and Petit Verdot (2%). Their wine is fermented in oak vats (they are one of the last châteaux in the Médoc to use them) and then matured in new oak casks. It is also frequently confused with the widely distributed generic Bordeaux Mouton Cadet.

Baron Philippe de Rothschild came up with the idea of having each year’s label designed by a famous artist of the day. In 1946, this became a permanent and significant aspect of the Mouton image with labels created by some of the world’s great painters and sculptors. The only exception to date is the unusual gold-enamel bottle for 2000.

To celebrate the hundredth birthday of the acquisition of Château Mouton, the portrait of Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild appeared on the 1953 label. In 1977, Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother visited the château and a special label was designed to commemorate the visit.

Twice in the history of their special labels, there have been two used for the same year. The first occurred in 1978 when Montreal artist Jean-Paul Riopelle submitted two designs. Baron Philippe de Rothschild liked them equally so he split the production run and used both designs. The 1993 Mouton label, a pencil drawing of a nude reclining nymphet by the French painter Balthus was rejected for use in the United States by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. As such, for the U.S. market the label was made with a blank space where the image should have been and both versions are sought after by collectors. The popularity of the label images results in auction prices for older and more collectible years being far out of sync with the other first growths, whose labels do not change year to year.

The most recent label, for Mouton’s 2008 vintage, is the work of Chinese artist Xu Lei.

Published on February 9, 2012 at 12:30  Comments (8)  

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Have you ever ever experienced a very unforgettable glass of wine?
    What about a memorable bottle? Which was additional vital
    to your expertise, the business or the wine alone?

    • Dear Sam ,
      There have been a few bottles of wine which I will always remember :
      – A Pinot Noir from Murfatlar Vineyard ( Romania ) from 1967.
      – A Muscat ( Romania ) from 1969 – a sweet wine .
      – A bottle of Amarone which I had the pleasure to have on My table , having lunch at Graycliff – Nassau , the Bahamas , with Pierce Brosnan….
      One unforgetteble glass of wine is always the one I have with My wife !

      On the second “question” , I do believe it’s all together ….one has to love wine , has to be open minded and try different types of wines from all over the world .One has to be able to match the food on the table with the wine He/She has and vice-versa! Sometimes it’s not the wine , but the friends surrounding You at that moment.
      With regards to judging a wine , well , You have to really really pay attention to what you have in your glass and nothing else !Of course you need to have the right glass for the wine you’re tasting !

      Hope You’ll visit again !

      Please receive My Best Regards ,


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