Subtlety and refinement are not necessarily what one expects when visiting Mouton. Often primeur samples are brooding beasts, which require a crystal ball to evaluate. The 2011 is the most charming and elegant example we can remember tasting. It may not compete with Latour and Lafite for sheer power, but what it lacks in extract, it more than makes up for with floral, fragrant fruit. Notes of sweet earth, minerals, flowers, pencil shavings and spice lead to a demure palate with wonderful texture, great extract and unforced, elegant flavours. This is all about refinement, but the flavours are persistent and whilst it doesn't look like a blockbuster, it has all the materials to age well for decades. A refreshing and sensual Mouton Rothschild produced from 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc.
Viticulture at the Mouton estate dates back to the early 18th century when Joseph de Brane purchased the estate from the Segur family. The wines’ reputation grew, but following the sale to a Parisian banker, Isaac Thuret, the estate’s fortunes took a turn for the worse. The estate gradually fell into a state of disrepair. Although Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild purchased the estate in 1853, it was too late to turn the estate around in time for the 1855 classification. Originally entered as a 2nd growth, years of investment by the Rothschild family saw the property elevated to 1st growth status in 1973.
There are 75 hectares rising to an altitude of 40 metres just to the north of Pauillac. Plantings are dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon (80%), with 10% Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot and just 2% Petit Verdot. The estate also produces a white wine, Aile d’Argent from their plantings of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle. Herve Berland, responsible for much of the estate’s progress over the past decade has recently moved to Chateau Montrose, but Philippe Dhalluin remains in charge of the cellar and will no doubt continue to push the qualitative bar ever higher.
The Cabernet Sauvignon domanates the appellation, in fact some might justifiably call Pauillac the most classical expression there is of Cabernet based Claret. It is sandwiched between St-Julien to the south and St-Estèphe to the north, a stone’s throw from the Gironde Estuary. The excellent drainage of the intensely gravely soils are the key to quality, producing some of the world’s most long-lived wines. The First Growths of Latour, Lafite and Mouton-Rothschild are found here, while other great Châteaux include Pichon Baron, Pichon Lalande, Pontet Canet, Lynch-Bages and Grand-Puy-Lacoste.