Baron Philippe de Rothschild: behind the wine label

Chateau Mouton Rothschild has few peers in the length and luster of its history.

There are only five “first grows” (considered wines of exceptional quality) in Bordeaux, and one of them, perhaps the more charismatic winery, is Baron Philippe de Rothschild, in Pauillac (Medoc).

I will never forget the first time I tried Chateau Mouton Rothschild over a decade ago in London. Once it was poured I smelled it, and then I smelled it again, and I kept doing so for the first 15 minutes. What a wonderful experience, only to be matched when I tasted it! Something similar happened recently when I attended the Baron Philippe de Rothschild dinner organized by the Wine Warehouse at the Caravelle hotel; however this time we enjoyed seven wines from this fantastic producer, complemented by great food and service from the hotel.

Wine tasting

The Bordeaux quality classification was created in 1855 and since then, only one major addition was made to this exclusive list in 1973, and that includes the five first grows. You have an idea of what it means to be one of the top five. After a wine auction at Christie’s in 2006, where a case of Mouton Rothschild was sold for almost USD300,000, it is now considered the most expensive wine in the world. But don’t despair; you can get your hands on their wines at affordable prices.

A good example is Chateau d’Armailhac 2008, a deep red wine with an amazing nose of dark cherries and delicate aromas of coffee; an elegant palate that develops red fruits, silky while full bodied. Petit Mouton 2007 is another gorgeous wine crafted by Baron Philippe de Rothschild: dark red in color with some violet highlights, the nose is full of berries and red fruits, with an elegant silky palate, rich and full bodied. These were just two of the great wines presented at the dinner, and as you can imagine, each of them  were spectacular and unique.

Mouton-Rothschild-Orage

Baron Philippe de Rothschild also produces several iconic wines outside of France like Opus One (California) and Almaviva (Chile), both awarded 95 points by Robert Parker.

So what makes a winery able to create such wonderful wines? This was my first question to Erwan Le Brozec, from Baron Philippe de Rothschild. He considers not only the particularities of terroir (soil) to be important, but the attitude and skills of the wine maker, without forgetting the winery’s willingness to produce quality rather than quantity, making something exceptional as Baron Philippe de Rothschild has been doing year after year. For example, Mouton Rothschild has gone from yielding over 300,000 bottles a year to just 170,000 in the last few years because of improvements in quality, grape selection and aging of the vines. The result is a lesser amount of wine, but greater quality.

Hivers-ceps-Vignes-Mouton-Rothschild

Baron Philippe de Rothschild is also internationally known for being a pioneer – and in fact, back in the 1930s he created the first wine brand with Mouton Cadet. Today it is one of the leading wine brands with annual global sales of over 5 million bottles in 160 countries. The same innovative skills have been carried forward by his descendants and applied to quality wine making, which now we can all enjoy in Vietnam.

Alfredo de la Casa has been organizing wine tastings for over 20 years, published three wine books, including the Gourmand award winner for best wine education book. You can reach him at www.wineinvietnam.com

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