Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac 2004
Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac 2004 will remain in the memory as the driest year since 1962, with only 560 mm of rainfall. The drought conditions began during the winter and continued throughout the spring and summer, though some rainfall in August gave the vines the water they needed and favoured veraison. Glorious weather in September enabled the Merlots to reach full maturity and picking began on 29 September. The grapes were rich in polyphenols and showed excellent sugar concentration. The rest of the harvest was delayed in order to encourage all the aromatic potential of a highly promising vintage. Picking in the best parcels of Cabernet Sauvignon resumed in exceptionally sunny conditions and higher than average temperatures and harvesting was completed on 15 October.
Château Mouton Rothschild is located in the commune of Pauillac, in the Medoc, 30 miles (50km) northwest of the city of Bordeaux. The grand vin is among the most highly rated and priced wines in the world, and is generally regarded as the most exuberant and powerful of all Bordeaux. It was famously added to the First Growths set out in the 1855 Classification in 1973.
The château started life as Brane-Mouton, and was among the best in Bordeaux through the 18th and early 19th Centuries, although there was a dip in quality and price in the 1840s. The Rothschild family bought (and renamed) the property in 1853 and quickly restored its reputation, but not in time for the 1855 Classification of Médoc wines, in which Mouton was only ranked a second growth wine. Lafite, Latour, Margaux and Haut-Brion attained Premier Cru Classé status.
Baron Philippe de Rothschild took control in 1922 and introduced château bottling in 1924, requiring the construction of the iconic barrel hall. At the end of World War II he also instigated the commissioning of a different artist each year to design the label. But his crowning achievement was the promotion of Mouton in 1973 to first growth status – the first change to the 1855 order.
The estate comprises 90 hectares (220 acres) of vineyards, mainly on gravel-based soils, and is situated in the northern part of the commune just south of Château Lafite Rothschild. Most of the vineyard is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, with 15 percent planted to Merlot and a small amount of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The vineyard, typically for top Médoc estates, is densely planted and the average vine age is more than 40 years old. Harvest is done by hand, and the juice is fermented in oak vats in a gravity-fed vat room opened in 2012. After fermentation, the wine sees 22 months in new oak before bottling.
Mouton Rothschild makes up to 350,000 bottles of wine a year, including the second wine Le Petit Mouton, which was established in 1993. It is made with grapes from selected younger vines, vinified in the same Mouton vats and aged in oak barrels. Around a hectare of white grapes was planted in the early 1980s to make the very rare Aile d’Argent Bordeaux Blanc.
Mouton’s parent company, Baron Phillippe de Rothschild SA, also owns the Pauillac châteaux d’Armailhac and Clerc Milon, Domaine de Baronarques in Limoux and various other wine brands. In partnership, it also owns Almaviva in Chile and Opus One in California, which began as a collaboration with Robert Mondavi. A different branch of the Rothschild family owns the adjacent Château Lafite-Rothschild property.