Have you ever noticed the framed collection of wine labels on the wall in Wine Cellar’s back dining room? If not, you should take a close look on your next visit. These labels are from one single winery in Bordeaux, France – Chateau Mouton Rothschild, a Premier Cru. There are only five first growth red Bordeaux and Mouton is one of them.
In 1945 Baron Phillippe Rothschild began commissioning contemporary artists to illustrate the label with an original work – each year using a different artist – some notable names being Jean Hugo, Salvador Dali, Marc Chagall and Andy Warhol, among many others. The commissioned artist is said to be paid ten cases of various vintages of the classic Chateau Mouton Rothschild for their work.
There have been only four years when no artist was commissioned: The 1953 label celebrated the centenary of the purchase of the Mouton estate by Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild, and in 1977 it commemorated the official visit to the Medoc of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the queen mother. The label for the year 2000 is enameled in gold directly on the bottle with a reproduction of the Augsburg Ram. A treasure from the Museum of Wine in Art at Mouton, the little Augsburg Ram is a chased silver-gilt drinking vessel created around 1590 by Jakob Schenauer, a German master goldsmith. The ram is Mouton’s symbol and appears on several of the labels. The 2003 label is devoted to Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild, depicted in a period photograph celebrating the 150th anniversary of the 1853 acquisition of the Mouton estate by the family.
Chateau Mouton was officially proclaimed a Premier Cru in 1973, also the year of Pablo Picasso’s death. One of Picasso’s paintings was already in the possession of the Mouton Museum and it was chosen to illustrate the label for that year.
The 1993 label by Balthus depicted a very tastefully done nude of a young girl. The US banned the label; consequently, the one produced for the American market is blank. Fortunately, Wine Cellar has both labels in the collection.
In the mid ’70s after Wine Cellar opened, a friend visited Chateau Mouton and acquired the labels up to that date, giving them to me as a gift. Since then I have made a point of acquiring each consecutive label – the release is three years after the date of harvest. This collection is very special and probably one of very few complete ones. It is worth checking out – just to see the names of all the renowned artists and their incredible work.
By Vicki Dugan, Owner, Wine Cellar