1987 Mouton Rothschild

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1987-mouton-rothschild
 

Wine Critic Reviews for 1987 Mouton Rothschild

(Château Mouton-Rothschild) This was the last vintage to be made by the Baron de Rothschild, and I have always had a sneaky suspicion that the 1987 may have been made a bit more memorable by the inclusion of some of the 1986 or 1988 bookends that may have been laying around, as the wine utterly transcends the vintage in terms of depth and power. Regardless of how the quality of the wine was ultimately arrived at, it is the finest 1987 Medoc that I have ever tasted, jumping from the glass in a blend of red berries, spices, coffee, eucalyptus, a touch of walnuts and the traditional Mouton nicely toasted new oak. On the palate the wine is medium-full, complex and à point, with excellent focus and fine length on the shapely finish. This is a lovely, commemorative bottling that still has plenty of life ahead of it. (Drink between 2003-2012)

John Gilman | 91 JG

Wine Details on 1987 Mouton Rothschild

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Producer Chateau Mouton Rothschild: As with all legendary chateaux, Mouton Rothschild has created an impressive empire over the course of its illustrious history. Moreover, Mouton has created a special niche for itself and has been producing unique and truly artistic masterpieces since its inception. What began as an audacious acquisition involving massive restructuring, extensive replanting and the construction of a new chateau, developed into one of the most coveted, First Growth properties in Bordeaux, while producing some of the finest, most prestigious wines in the world.

The might of Mouton began in 1853 when the estate, previously known as Chateau Brane Mouton (which dates back to 1720), was purchased by Nathaniel de Rothschild. Due to neglect and ill managed vineyard maintenance, the property sold for less than it was paid for 23 years earlier. This transaction would turn out to be an incredible investment as Mouton would evolve into one of the most successful and coveted properties in Bordeaux. Following the custom of the day, Baron Nathaniel renamed the property using his name along with a portion of the original name; this was the official birth of Chateau Mouton Rothschild.

By the time of Baron Nathaniel’s death, the Left Bank property had risen to global fame, had been granted Second Growth status in the Official 1855 Classification of the Medoc and was producing world-class wines. The history of Mouton and all of Bordeaux would inevitably change in 1922 when a young Philippe de Rothschild gained control of the estate. Despite the property’s rise to prominence, the young Baron insisted that the estate could produce better wine. He believed, with certainty, that Mouton was as good as any First Growth from the Medoc.

It can be argued that the modern age of Chateau Mouton Rothschild, along with the modernization of the entire Bordeaux wine region began simultaneously. Baron Philippe completely changed how Bordeaux wine was produced and sold. At the young age of 20, the Baron implemented methods and techniques that were seen as radical at the time, but are still applied by all the top producers of Bordeaux wine today. The Baron was also the first Bordeaux owner to insist on bottling all his wine at their estate, which at the time was considered an unusual idea. This savvy concept, however, would allow total control over the wine sold from Mouton.

Prior to that point, the more common practice was to sell the wine in barrel to negociants, making bottling at the property a revolutionary concept. To enhance the start of bottling at the chateau, in customer’s minds, Baron Philippe hired the Cubist artist Jean Carlu to create a special label for the 1924 Mouton label. This was a precursor to the now-famous artist-designed labels, which began in earnest in 1945. Artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Miro, Chagall, Braque, and Balthus, have all contributed to this tradition.

Although the estate had achieved much, ameliorated exponentially and was highly regarded, in the eyes of Baron Philippe, Mouton was always a First Growth vineyard. His sheer determination would eventually grant him the highest reward as the estate was elevated to First Growth status in 1973, becoming the only person to succeed in changing the 1855 Classification. After Mouton had officially become a “Premier Cru Classe,” the accomplishment initiated a response by the Baron, “First I am, Second I was, I Mouton do not change.” For this momentous occasion, the front label for the 1973 label boasted his now, famous saying.

When Baron Philippe de Rothschild passed away in 1988, his many accomplishments were evident in the quality and standing of the wines produced and sold on the world market. His daughter, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild succeeded her father’s reign at Mouton and immediately began implementing changes. The first of which, was the introduction of a white wine named, Aile d’Argent (meaning Silver Angel); renewing an ancestral tradition in the Medoc and causing quite a stir around the region.

Under the direction of the Baroness, Mouton underwent a multi-year, complete renovation of the winery. Construction was completed in 2013 and ready for the new vintage. A cutting edge, state of the art, gravity fed, vinification cellar was constructed along with higher quality vineyard management. One of the unique creations was the invention of windows on the large, oak, fermentation vats, which allowed the wine maker to peer into the vat from top to bottom.

Another savvy business tactic was the hiring of Philippe Dhalluin, previous director of Branaire Ducru (St. Julien) in an effort to increase the quality at the estate. Since the arrival of Philippe Dhaulluin, yields have lowered and the number of cases produced of the Grand Vin has continued to decrease. This decrease in quantity has only increased the quality of wines. The Baroness passed away at 80 years of age in 2014 and is survived by her three children. The estate remains in family hands to this day.
Chateau Mouton Rothschild spans 90 hectares of vines to the northwest of Bordeaux, on the edge of the Medoc Peninsula. The estate is situated, as its name indicates, in medio aqua, “amid the waters,” which are the waters of the Gironde estuary to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its proximity to the river helps to irrigate the soil in depth and moderate differences in temperature. The estate benefits from the mildness of the ocean climate while also being protected by the large forests bordering the property to the west. The property rests on the Plateau de Mouton (Mouton meaning hill or hillock) which rises to 27 meters above sea level, offering important, natural drainage. The peak elevations at Mouton are among the highest in all of Pauillac.

Mouton’s prime location grants the vineyards exceptional terroir, consisting of deep gravel, rocks, stones and sand over limestone soils. Beneath the topsoil, clay, marl and more limestone with sand and iron are present. This incredible concentration of gravel in the soil, which goes down 5 meters below the surface, gives Mouton its unique character, and sense of place. The wine is a true reflection of its environment.

The vineyards of Mouton are planted to 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. The average age of vines is 50 years old with some vines dating back to 1890 (over 130 years old) making them some of the oldest active vines in all of Bordeaux. Today, annual production at Mouton is around 20,000 cases, which has significantly decreased from previous years, largely due to Philippe Dhaulluin’s efforts to increase the quality of the Grand Vin.

Mouton is the most flamboyant style of wine of all the First Growths, with Asian spices, opulent textures and an exotic character. It has great staying power and the ability to age and evolve for decades. The wine offers incredible depth and concentration as well as balance, length and purity, making it not only one of the finest Bordeaux wines but one of the finest in the world. The wines are usually better with 15 years of age and has a peak maturity between 18 and 60 years after the vintage.

The knowledge and skills of the men and women who make Mouton have followed each other from generation to generation, passing on ancestral know-how and skills enhanced by the advantages of cutting edge technology. The reason that the name Mouton is globally recognized and considered one of the finest wines in the world is, undoubtedly, due to the resolve of the Rothschild family and their persistent efforts at increasing quality and reputation. Chateau Mouton Rothschild wines are different from one vintage to another, but always the same…quite deserving of its motto, “I Mouton do not change.”

Region Bordeaux: Even among the greatest and most reputable wine regions on the planet, Bordeaux stands above the rest. The winemakers of this region have a single-minded dedication to the fine art of viticulture and their efforts never fail to show. If you consider yourself a fine wine enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to visit Bordeaux - life changing. Whether you wish to drink some inspirational and gripping wine as soon as possible, or you want to add some masterpieces to your collection, no region on Earth is a more obvious choice.

The noble and beautiful Garonne and Dordogne rivers surge through southwestern France, enriching the soil in a way very few other places can boast. The limestone-based earth is rich in calcium, and the almost oceanic climate conditions give the staple Bordeaux grape varietals vigor and flavor like nowhere else. For their illustrious reds, Bordeaux winemakers rely on a proven combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Meanwhile, a sip of their excellent white wine hints at the use of Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc.Each of these varietals carries a unique identity, making every quality wine a character piece to rival Citizen Kane. It can be incredibly hard to choose only a few wines to collect for your cellar!
Subregion Pauillac
Country France: Words fail us when trying to adequately portray France's place in the world of wine. It's downright impossible to imagine what wine would feel and taste like had it not been for France's many, many viticultural pioneers. Fine wine is the blood of France's vigorously beating heart, and it finds itself in many aspects of French culture. With a viticultural history that dates all the way back to the 6th century BC, France now enjoys its position as the most famous and reputable wine region on the planet. If you have a burning passion for masterfully crafted, mouth-watering, mind-expanding wines, then regular visits to France are probably already in your schedule, and for a good reason.
Type of Wine Bordeaux Red: Picture in your mind a combination of cedar, lead pencil, blackcurrant, plum and mineral aromatics, and texture that caresses your palate like a playful lover. The experience is thrilling from the first whiff to the final seconds of a tannic, generous finish - that is what you'll get from a Bordeaux Red
Varietal Red Bordeaux Blend: The inhabitants of the Bordeaux region of France have been cultivating wine-grapes for thousands of years. Ancient Roman ruins litter the vineyards from Saint Emilion to Graves where the art of blending Bordeaux varietals has been practiced and perfected over a very long history. Bordeaux’s climate, terroir and soils, though varied, provide the optimal growing conditions for the red grape varietals planted in the region.

Rarely listed on the labels as “blend,” the red wines of Bordeaux are perhaps the most artfully designed and celebrated in the world. The calculated art of blending the native Bordeaux varietals is impressively accomplished in the most famous winegrowing region in the world. The phrase Bordeaux Blend which seems to have been coined by British wine merchants in the 19th Century relates as much to wines made from the blend as to the grape variety combination itself.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and occasionally Carmenere are the lead characters in the creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. Each plays a part in their own fashion and implemented in various combinations and percentages in each appellation within Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux Blends are majorly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, roughly making up 90% of all Bordeaux Blends. Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec (occasionally Carmenere) are also important components and vital to the production of the region’s red wines.

For simplicity, the winegrowing region of Bordeaux can be divided into three main appellations producing Red Bordeaux Blends; the Left Bank (Medoc), Right Bank and Pessac-Leognan (Graves). The Left Bank has a terroir comprised of a wide variety of gravel, stones, sand, limestone and clay soils on a natural terrain of gentle slopes. This sets the stage perfectly for the production of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the dominant grape of the Left Bank. For example, Chateau Lafite (Paulliac) is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Right Bank is dominated by clay and limestone with sand and gravel, but the clay in the Right Bank is distinctly its own and adds to the health, growth and vitality of the vines of the varietals grown here. Right Bank wines are typically 80% Merlot-based, which are often denser, richer and mature earlier than those of the Left Bank (with exceptions – Petrus for example). Merlot is a vital component to Pomerol winegrowing and making. Cabernet Franc also plays a major role in the Right Bank, most notably, in Saint Emilion, where the infamous vineyards of Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc are planted to 55% and 52% Cabernet Franc, respectively. Chateaux that produce wines with a majority of Cabernet Franc are considered “old school” producers, but have perfected the use of Cabernet Franc, which was originally used as a blending grape.

Pessac-Leognan (Graves) enjoys a temperate climate, natural hygrometry influenced by the ocean, and has a terroir composed of gravelly soil over a clay subsoil on sloping, hilly terrain. Natural drainage due to the hilly terrain as well as the gravelly soil structure are perfectly attuned to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine, which prospers under these conditions. Pessac reaps the benefits of having the terroir of both the Left and Right Bank as it contains gravel and clay. The clay sub-soil allows the growth and success of Merlot, as well as Cabernet Franc. It is home to the only First Growth not in the Medoc. The 50-hectare vineyard of Haut Brion is planted to 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.

The percentage of Petit Verdot and Malbec may be lesser in quantity, but not in quality. They are vital to the region’s creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. The combination of Bordeaux varietals is legendary in the region, around the world and has influenced winegrowers worldwide to plant and vinify wines which resemble those of Red Bordeaux Blends.

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