It was Baron Phillippe de Rothschild who first came up with the idea of having the label for his famed Château Mouton Rothschild redesigned by a famous artist for each year’s vintage. It was a brilliant idea, that brought art and wine together for one of the very first times. By 1946, this had become a permanent and significant aspect of the Mouton image with the popularity of the label images resulting in auction prices for more collectible years being far out of sync with the other first growths. Since the tradition first began, Mouton Rothschild has highlighted some of the most celebrated artists of their days, including Joan Miró, Marc Chagall, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Salvador Dali, and Jeff Koons. This exciting lot includes the following vintages and their respective artists:
1979 Château Mouton Rothschild (Rated 89 points)
Though the Bordeaux’s of the late 1970’s are not highly rated, the 1979 Mouton is a pleasant wine with vegetal, cedary, coffee, and berry-scented notes. The wine is medium-bodied, with a slight greenness to its curranty, earthy flavors, and moderately astringent, bitter tannin in the finish. This vintage features artwork by Hisao Domoto (1928-2013), who, despite enjoying traditional training as a nihonga artist in his native Japan, moved to France in 1955, and quickly adopted an Abstractionist flair, creating bold strokes resembling half-circles swinging freely throughout the canvas. This bold movement is reminiscent of clouds or even waves, and aims to mimic nature.
1982 Château Mouton Rothschild (Rated 100 points)
One of the legends of Bordeaux, this wine has thrown off the backward, youthful style that existed during its first 25 years of life, to develop such secondary nuances as cedar and spice box. The crême de cassis, underlying floral note, full-bodied power, extraordinary purity, multilayered texture, and finish of over a minute are a showcase for what this Château accomplished in 1982. The wine is still amazingly youthful, vibrant, and pure, and appears capable of remaining fruity and vibrant in 2082! The label highlights the work of film director, writer, and actor John Marcellus Huston (1906-1987), who—after spending his early years studying to be a painter—continued to explore the visual aspects of his films throughout his career, often sketching scenes beforehand, and then framing his charades to fit his vision.
1986 Château Mouton Rothschild (Rated 100 points)
The 1986 Mouton-Rothschild is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot that has a powerful and intense bouquet as always: exemplary graphite and cedar scents, a touch of black pepper and incense. It seems to unfurl in the glass, like a motor revving its engine. The palate is beautifully balanced with its trademark firm tannic structure. Layers of black fruit intermingle with mint and graphite, a hint of licorice emanating from the Merlot, gently fanning out for an incredibly long finish. This is a true vin de garde and drinkers will have to wait until it reaches its true peak. The label was designed by Haitian artist Bernard Séjourné (1947-1994), a School of Beauty artist who studied at the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Port-au-Prince, the Jamaica School of Arts and Crafts, Kingston, the Art Students League of New York and at the American Art School, New York.
1989 Château Mouton Rothschild (Rated 96 points)
The 1989 Mouton Rothschild shows so much ripe and decadent fruit on the nose, from dried berries and raisin to strawberry and sultana. There is a nutty, cedar undertone as well. Very complex and full-bodied, with lots of vanilla bean and ripe plum flavors. It is almost Burgundian in texture: so soft and so attractive, but then the Bordeaux tannins kick in at the end. The label was created by German painter Georg Baselitz (b. 1938), who first gained recognition in the 1970’s for his upside-down images, and is widely considered one of the pioneers of the Neo-Expressionist movement.
1995 Château Mouton Rothschild (Rated 96 points)
This wine is evolving into one of Mouton Rothschild's greatest vintages. It boasts an inky purple color, as well as a powerful, blockbuster nose of explosively jammy cassis intermingled with toasty new oak, minerals, and spice. The wine is layered, with extraordinary depth, richness, glycerin, and length. This is undoubtedly the greatest Mouton since the 1986, with a more precocious, up-front character than that wine. A formidable tannin level combined with low acidity (the wine's PH is around 3.8), and magnificent layers of fruit suggest the 1995 will be approachable after bottling, but expect it to close down after 6-7 years in the bottle, not to re-emerge for 15-20 years. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2030. The label was designed by Antoni Tàpies (1923-2012), one of the best-known Catalan artists to emerge in the period since the Second World War.
Vivian Banta and Robert Field