100ml, Bordeaux, France

2014 Mouton Rothschild label by David Hockney

The 2014 Mouton Rothschild label shows the friendship between the late Baroness Philippine de Rothschild and British artist David Hockney.

2014 Mouton Rothschild label

2014 Mouton Rothschild label

‘In tribute to Philippine’

Most of all, it is a fitting tribute to the Baroness, who died in late August of the same year as the wine. Although it was her father who began the tradition in 1945 to commission artists, it was Madame de Rothschild who brought her own vibrancy and verve to the Chateau. The label shows the energy in the vibrating lines.

The story in her obituary in the New York Times recounts when she approached Francis Bacon for the 1990 Mouton Rothschild label. She asked, “if she could use his painting of a nude that her father rejected, Mr Bacon asked what had changed.

“I’m not my father,” she answered.”

David Hockney is well-known for his smoking, but after his heart attack, he no longer drinks. Chateau Mouton Rothschild pays artists with five cases of Chateau Mouton Rothschild wine from the current vintage and five cases from other vintages.  Let’s hope that he has a drop and shares it with his many friends.

Holding history

This first growth may seem like one of the ultimate “investment wines” but it is better to open and enjoy wine with friends rather than lock it away forever. That’s what I think this label says, too.

Even if the opportunity to open the wine takes 87 years.

I have been very lucky recently to share the 1929 Mouton Rothschild with friends (read more in “In the hours between coffee and wine”). From the same year of the Great Depression, the 1929 vintage did not have an artist-commissioned work we have now come to expect.

mouton-rothschild-1929

1929 Mouton Rothschild – in the period before Mouton Rothschild commissioned artists for the labels – at Harry’s Bar, London, October 2016

The Baroness’ father purchased Chateau Mouton Rothschild in 1922 – where they commissioned only one label by artist, Jean Carlu in 1924. But was not until 1945 that an artist’s work featured on the labels. The first one in 1945 commemorated the Allied Victory of World War Two. The back catalogue of labels are a who’s who of twentieth century artists, including Picasso (1973) and Miro (1969) and more recently, the “Luxury and Humour” of Jeff Koons (2010).

Here’s to blue skies and good wine.