Château Mouton Rothschild 2016
The story of Château Mouton Rothschild is proof that sometimes greatness is earned after a tireless struggle to achieve excellence and recognition. Château Mouton was initially ranked as a Second Growth during the original Official 1855 Classification. In 1922, the estate was aquired by Baron Phillippe de Rothschild - a true rennaissance man, who added his name to the label. The Baron was a Grand Prix racecar driver, a screenwriter, a playwright, a theatrical producer, a poet, and one of the most successful winegrowers in Bordeaux. He also happened to be an enormous personality, and would later refer to Château Mouton Rothschild's Second Growth Classification as a, “monstrous injustice.”
It was the Baron's lifelong crusade to prove that Mouton Rothschild deserved the First Growth designation and as a form of protest, he added the statement to the wine label: Premier ne puis, second ne daigne, Mouton suis (“First I cannot be. Second I do not deign to be. Mouton, I am.”).
After decades of relentless lobbying (for the Official 1855 Classification not only required peer ackowledgement, but also demanded a French government agency's sign-off), Château Mouton Rothschild earned its proper designation as a Premier Cru Classé – or a First Growth - in 1973.
The grounds of Mouton Rothschild consist of 90 hectares of vines, sandwiched by the Gironde estuary and the Atlantic Ocean. Plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and even some white varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle can be found here. The 42-year-old vines are planted close to the Gironde which irrigates them and moderates the surrounding temperature. The vineyards are heavily graveled and gently sloped, filled with vines that produce flamboyant yet powerful wines.
The case of Château Mouton Rothschild is a unique one. These wines are estate grown, picked by hand, produced at the chateau and known for their exotically opulent style. The Baron was also one of the early property owners to insist on estate bottling, a practice that has become the standard since 1920s. Many a member of the Rothschild family delegates their free time to creative pursuits like writing, directing, and acting when not managing the vineyards. This creativity that flows abundantly within the family veins lends an understanding that winemaking is an artform, and since 1945 each bottle of Mouton Rothschild has a special label created by a famous artist under the commission of the chateau. The labels themselves are worthy of a collector, featuring - but not limited to – the works of Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol. When purchasing a bottle of Mouton Rothschild, one purchases a work of art.
The spirit of Mouton Rothschild is one of relentless determination and creativity. It is no wonder that their best wines possess a brawny decadence that borders upon ostentatiousness. For the Rothschilds, being “second best,” is not an option. It is no wonder the phrase on each bottle now is: Premier je suis, Second je fus, Mouton ne change ("I am first. I used to be second. Mouton does not change.").
"The 2016 Mouton Rothschild is a blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, with the Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot vinified together. It has a very deep purple-black color and slowly slides out of the glass with spicy notes of Sichuan pepper, cloves and cinnamon stick giving way to a core of perfumed black fruits and florals—blackcurrant cordial, candied violets, blackberry compote, rose hips and black plums—plus suggestions of espresso, damp soil, tar and beef drippings. Medium-bodied, the palate is very firmly structured and jam-packed with latent energy about to burst, offering superbly ripe, grainy tannins and bold freshness to support the intense floral and black fruit layers and finishing very long and very minerally. Powerful, profound wine." - Lisa Perotti-Brown, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (11/30/2018, Interim Issue), Ratings: 100
In 2016, there were two main trends in the weather as we experienced it in Pauillac:
A very wet winter and spring: more than half of the annual rainfall came in the first four months of the year, including a record 240 mm in January ; an extremely dry summer and autumn without any significant rainfall, resulting in a water deficit at the end of the year.
As a consequence of the summer drought, the grapes were numerous but remained rather small, making for density and concentration. High temperatures in August and September allowed for slow ripening and excellent maturity, so that the harvest started with the Merlot on 26 September and continued in perfect conditions until 14 October.
In the vat house, each grape variety and each plot were, as usual, vinified separately in order to let their intrinsic character shine through. The wines, which have now been blended, offer remarkable colour, intense fruit and spice aromas and a dense texture of very rich and well-rounded tannins.
Its density and substance make the 2016 vintage comparable with the finest so far this century.
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