Hockney graces Mouton
By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com
9 February 2017
What is it about Mouton Rothschild that makes it so appealing?
The wine in the bottle can be amazing.
Sure, it is far too expensive for most of us mere mortals. At least it has become so – like the other first growths. I still recall a time when one could have bought Mouton for about $150 en primeur. And that was too pricey for some older buyers at the time.
These days, a very good vintage fetches between $300 and $500 and a great vintage $600 and up. Too much for a single bottle of wine, I say. But if you have the money, I guess you have a different perspective.
And let’s hand it to the estate for its creative use of artists to change the label year in, year out.
Wine as art? Certainly chez Mouton. I own a few bottles of the 2004, 2005 and 2008. While the Prince Charles sketch is no great shakes for me on the 2004, I really like artist Xu Lei’s ram on the 2008, perched on a delicately delineated rock.
The 2005 is also cool: Giuseppe Penone’s illustration indeed evokes a vine-grower’s “green fingers” as if a living expansion of the vine leaf, and at the same time the splayed hand of the drinker: soon to close round a glass of Mouton.
I would have purchased the 2014, but I do not have that kind of cash. Nevertheless, I love the art of English painter David Hockney, who is featured on the 2014 label.
Interestingly, six days before the opening of his major retrospective at Tate Britain, he called in at Spencer House, the London mansion sumptuously restored by Lord Rothschild, to pay tribute to his friend Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, who had died in 2014.
At the event, hosted by Lord Rothschild, Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild and David Hockney both unveiled the display case containing the original artwork for the label of Château Mouton Rothschild 2014, drawn by the artist.
According to the official press release for this event: The art for the 2014 vintage is “luminous and vibrant” showing two glasses, one empty and the other full, telling the story of “feverish expectation” and “the constantly renewed miracle of the birth of a great wine”.
Well, ok. An added benefit? Mouton Rothschild tasted really good from barrel in 2014…
Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild explained the history of Mouton’s changing label:
The story begins in 1945, when my grandfather, Philippe de Rothschild, asked the greatest artists of the day to create a design to grace the label of Mouton, his wine, which he also considered to be a work of art. An artwork implies an original, and his daughter Philippine, my mother, had another idea of genius: that of showing the whole world the original works by Miró, Chagall, Picasso, Francis Bacon and so many others, hitherto seen only as reproductions on the label of the vintage they had been asked to illustrate.