Chateau Mouton Rothschild | Little Book of Wonders
Little Book of Wonders | August 2013
Where great art meets great wine
From Picasso to Kapoor, the artists who have given their talents to Chateau Mouton Rothschild. By Laura Ivill
Where can you expect to see a collection of work from the greatest artists of the 20th century, commissioned entirely by one company to illustrate its product? For 70 years, Château Mouton Rothschild, the Bordeaux first growth, has been asking the foremost artists of the day to create the wine label for its vintage. Happy to oblige for payment in kind have been Cocteau, Braque, Miró, Chagall, Picasso, Warhol, Haring, Bacon, Freud, Kapoor, and, er, Prince Charles. The most recent vintage, the 2010, depicts a fresco from Pompeii by the world’s most expensive living artist, Jeff Koons.
The winery has undergone a substantial renovation by the architects Bernard Mazières with designer Richard Peduzzi, including a new gallery that opened on July 1 to house all the original artworks together for the first time.
Until 1924 Bordeaux chåteaux sold their wine in cask to merchants who took control of maturation, bottling and marketing. In 1924, Baron Philippe de Rothschild commissioned his first label from the poster designer Jean Carlu, to celebrate the Château’s revolutionary move to bottling its wine at the property. From then on wine labels came to represent a guarantee of quality.
The Mouton art label was a one-off until the great Bordeaux vintage of 1945, when the Baron celebrated the end of the war with a V for Victory label by the young painter Philippe Jullian. When the Baron died in 1988, his only child, the Baroness, continued the tradition, giving painters free reign.
It has, not surprisingly, proved a canny success story for the Château. With the rise in Chinese interest in fine wine in recent years, when the Baroness was rumoured to favour the Chinese artist Xu Lei for the 2008 vintage, prices rose from the opening £1,800 per case to £2,200. By 2010, the 2008 was trading at £6,000 per case. A lucky no8 on a red wine – how could the Chinese resist?
See Mouton Rothschild: Paintings for the Labels as part of a winery tour.