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Peter Doig creates the original artwork for the Château Mouton Rothschild 2020 label
A British painter of Scottish origin who divides his time between London and Trinidad, Peter Doig is the artist chosen by Château Mouton Rothschild to create the original artwork to illustrate the label for its 2020 vintage.
In his work for the label, the painter combines echoes of Cézanne and van Gogh with a fascinating personal reverie on the nocturnal birth of a great wine, seemingly brought to life by the strange magic of a song played on the guitar.
The painting is a dreamscape. The artist has sought to create a picture that celebrates the growing and harvesting of grapes, showing workers in the vineyard. Peter Doig wished to establish a connection with artists like Millet, van Gogh and Bacon who had depicted vineyard or farm workers. The work also had a personal inspiration in his Trinidadian friend, an artist known as Embah (Emheyo Bhabba) who brought a cuatro - a four string guitar - to one of Doig’s exhibitions in Paris and shared his music and poetry during the course of the evening.
“The painting shows something of what goes on behind the scenes in the production of wine, what happens offstage, as it were. It’s a sort of ode to workers, to all those involved at the various stages of making a wine before it’s finally bottled. It’s a dream with a romantic streak, as if someone spontaneously decided to sing in the vines. It’s a moment of poetry, where you can take your time. It’s neither really day nor really night, but rather something in between, between waking and sleeping. It is possible to see it as a progression, a dream journey in the world of the harvest.”
Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild, co-owner of Château Mouton Rothschild with responsibility for the estate’s artistic and cultural activity and relations with the artist who creates the original artwork for the label of each new vintage, explains:
“We wanted an artist who uses canvas and pictorial material to express figurative subjects. Unrivalled as a colourist, Peter Doig focuses entirely on painting and has become one of his generation’s foremost exponents of the discipline, holding exhibitions all over the world. There is something very special about his technique and his universe that sets them apart in contemporary figurative art. His subjects are very varied, his painting resists any classification: he has succeeded in creating his own, inimitable world.”
It was Baron Philippe de Rothschild’s ambition to make Château Mouton Rothschild a place of art and beauty. Since 1945, the label for each vintage of Château Mouton Rothschild has been illustrated by an original artwork. Year after year, they enhance a unique collection of contemporary art by very different artists from a wide variety of backgrounds, including Dalí, César, Miró, Chagall, Picasso, Warhol, Soulages, Bacon, Balthus, Tàpies, Jeff Koons, David Hockney, Annette Messager and Olafur Eliasson.
All the artworks can be seen in the Paintings for the Labels exhibition, created by Baroness Philippine de Rothschild in 1981 and on permanent display at Château Mouton Rothschild since 2013.
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)
In Bordeaux, the heat resulted in early flowering. Also, this led to an early harvest after a very hot summer. As a starting point, there is great maturity in the grapes, and one can expect a more opulent vintage than in the last few years.
The summer this year has been the warmest since 1959, yet the rain has fallen at the right times during the growing season. The harvest took place two weeks before the norm and will yield grapes with high potential alcohol and the lowest acidity since the 2003 vintage. As they say in Bordeaux: "It has been a good and extreme growing season which hopefully also produces great wines".