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Château Mouton Rothschild A Premier Cru Classé in 1973, Château Mouton Rothschild, owned by Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, consists of 205 acres of vines near Pauillac, in the Médoc, North West of the city of Bordeaux. This Premier Cru benefits from exceptionally good natural conditions, both in the quality of the soil, the position of its vines and their exposure to the sun. It is regarded today as one of the world's greatest wine.
The name Mouton is said to be derived from the word „Motte“ meaning mound or elevation of the ground. It was bought in 1853 by Philippe de Rothschilds great-grand father it was in a fairly bad shape and when the classification of 1855 was set up it was not deemed to be good enough to be qualified as a first growth but put in first place amongst the second growths. An injustice it took Philippe de Rothschild until 1973 to rectify. 1920s Philippe de Rothschild called together the owners of Haut Brion, Latour, Lafite, Margaux and Yquem to talk about the idea of bottling and marketing their wines on their own.
The first vintage to be bottled exclusivly at the château was the 1924 vintage. To commemorate this, the cubistic painter Carlu was asked to design the label, yet another revolutionary idea in this most conservative of surroundings. The idea of an artist designing the labels was dropped until 1945 when Philippe Jullian was asked to design a label commemorating the victory over nazi Germany. Since then works of such famous artists as Picasso, Miró, Dali, Chagall and personalities like John Huston and Prince Charles have been used for the labels.
In 1988, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, who had already been associated with her father's work for some time, succeeded her father. She has in turn become the guarantor of the quality of an illustrious wine whose motto proudly proclaims : "Premier je suis, second je fus, Mouton ne change". First I am, second I was, I Mouton do not change
Vineyard soil: very deep gravel on a limestone base Production area: 82.5 ha Grape varieties: 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot Average age of vines: 48 years Harvest method: hand picked. The grapes from the younger vines are harvested first and vinified separately.
Winemaking: Before destemming, the grapes are hand-sorted then selected one by one. Vinification depends on each vintage and the characteristics of each vat. All the relevant parameters, such as temperature, pumping over, aeration, vatting time and running off, are monitored by the technical manager, the cellar-master and the laboratory.
Ageing: 19 to 22 months in oak barrels (almost all new, the percentage varying according to the vintage)
Château Mouton Rothschild 1997
The year began with dry and warm weather, bringing much higher than normal average temperatures from the end of January and causing the vine to bud at the very beginning of March.
Flowering took place evenly across the different varieties, and mid-flowering was reached between 20 and 24 May. Mid-veraison was reached between 24 July and 1 August, 15 days earlier than usual, though at different times according to the grape variety. August was hot and humid, almost tropical, with 100% humidity on 3 days, but appropriate disease and pest control measures ensured that the crop remained in excellent condition. However, these unusual weather conditions halted the ripening process.
With the grapes ripening unevenly, it was necessary to wait until they reached optimum maturity in order to ensure a high-quality harvest. Fortunately, the weather turned fine again in September.
1997 NIKI DE SAINT PHALLE
Born in 1930 at Neuilly-sur-Seine in France, Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002), grew up in New York, where her parents lived. While still very young she worked as a model for leading American magazines and began to study music. In 1952, she moved to Paris with Harry Matthews, her husband and the father of her two children, and began to paint. During a visit to Barcelona she discovered Gaudi's architecture, which was to have a lasting influence on her art.
In 1956, she held her first exhibition of paintings at St Gall in Switzerland. In 1960, she met the sculptor Jean Tinguely, with whom she maintained a close personal and professional relationship until his death in 1991. She acquired early fame in the years that followed for provocative works like her "surprise paintings", made of plaster blisters full of vivid colours which she burst by firing at them with a rifle. During the same period she joined the New Realists, a group of artists whose other members included Yves Klein, Arman, Christo and Tinguely.
Between 1965 and 1970 she created and exhibited her first "Nanas", opulent, polychrome female shapes whose curves challenged the fashion for beanpole women. Exhibited in New York, Stockholm and Montreal among other places, they became the emblems of her powerfully original work as a sculptor. Over time these buxom "Nanas", genesis of her future work, gave birth to a fascinating array of extravagantly fanciful creatures, sometimes anthropomorphic, often gigantic and always violently coloured, including the Cyclop at Milly-la-Forêt, the Golem in Jerusalem and the Tarot Garden in Tuscany. In 1982, with Jean Tinguely, she created the celebrated Stravinsky Fountain near the Pompidou Centre in Paris, which two years earlier had hosted a retrospective of her work. The world-famous artist settled in San Diego (USA) and, with the architect Mario Botta, has conceived a monumental Noah's Ark for the year 2000.
From the sun to the plate, taking in a sensual mouth and an outstretched hand, Niki de Saint Phalle's composition for Mouton is a sparkling, festive allegory of the pleasures of the table. And then, running across the painting, there is the "Niki-object", springing from a story as old as the world itself: the serpent tempter. But instead of the traditional apple, this serpent, more wine-loving than malign, is offering Eve a bottle ... of Mouton Rothschild 1997 no doubt!