Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Mouton Rothschild's Wine Label Artist Series Releases

Mouton Rothschild's Wine Label Artist Series 2010 Release and 2012 Unveiling 

As we turn the calendar to a new year, we start the clock on a new vintage year for wines produced that are harvested from grapes during this calendar year.  I wrote this week about this milestone and the release of new labels with the vintage designation and the special attention afforded the new release of collector's labels. As part of my continued fun with, and study of wines, and the branding and packaging of such, see my blog on the annual release of Marilyn Merlot featuring an exclusive label photograph of the starlet actress Marilyn Monroe.

We're holding 1990
Mouton -
birth year wine of our
youngest son

No producer in the world captures the imagination or attention of wine collectors more than the premier first growth designated Chateau Mouton Rothschild with their annual series of artist and art inspired labels

There are a number of producers from around the world that have created an artist series of labels - one with images of the producer, one with artwork by the producer, ones with flowers, ducks, artist renderings of their winery and vineyards, or just collections of art in various forms. The is only one Mouton Rothschild who are the standard bearer extraordinaire for the practice.

Each year a renowned artist is commissioned to do the artwork for that vintage label. The featured artist is said to be paid ten cases of various vintages of the classic Chateau Mouton Rothschild for their work, which is significant since the wine can command close to a thousand dollars per bottle in top vintages.  

Many a collector can only dream of collecting a 'vertical' collection of the line of Mouton releases each with the unique release of a featured artist' dedicated work of art to adorn that vintage release of the wine. 

Mouton Rothschild labels have been produced by the world's most famous contemporary artists, Chagall (1970), Dali (1958), Picasso (1973), Miro (1969), Andy Warhol (1975), as well as other luminaries such as Prince Charles (2004) and Hollywood director John Huston (1982). Many other producers have established artist series, but there is only one Mouton Rothschild.

In 1945, Mouton patriarch Baron Philippe de Rothschild conceived the original idea of crowning the Mouton label with a work of art created for this purpose by famous artists: These have included paintings by Miró, Chagall, Braque, Picasso, Warhol, Bacon, Balthus, amongst others. Only 4 vintages have not had Artist's labels: 1953 which celebrated the initial purchase of the Mouton property, 1977 when the British Queen Mother stayed at Mouton and the Baron dedicated that year's vintage to her, 2000 where the label is enameled in gold with a reproduction of Jakob Schenauer's Augsburg Ram (see library), and 2003 which is devoted to Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild depicted in a period photograph celebrating the 150th anniversary of 1853 acquisition of the Mouton estate by the family (see library). 

Another interesting anomaly in the annual release occurred in 1993. The label by Balthus depicted a charcoal on parchment drawing of a young girl reclining in the nude. Since it is a frontal view, the label was considered inappropriate and was withdrawn from the US marketplace, replaced by a blank label variation with the  image removed against the background. I acquired and hold both versions in our collection. 

In my continued study of the art of Mouton label artists, I've created in my label library collection on my WineSite, comparative works of art showing the label art relative to other works of art by the featured artist. Shown in the collection at The Art Institute of Chicago is a print by Balthus featuring a young girl fully clad but in a highly seductive naughty pose. There is also a charcoal sketch by Balthus shown in the collection very similar to the label art that was removed - see Seated Girl, 1966 

Latest 2010 Mouton

We've just recently seen arrival of bottles of the 2010 release and its artistic label designed by American artist Jeff Koons (see left). This label is of interest since this vintage year is the birth year of our first grandchild and we're acquiring and assembling a special horizontal collection of select bottles from the year. 

In the coming months, we should see the arrival of Chateau Mouton Rothschild from the 2011 vintage with its artist inspired label. The latency in the release of the wine is due to the aging of the wine in barrels for an extended period of time before it is bottled and subsequently released, two to three years after the actual harvest. 

The 2011 label features brightly colored "sinuous, random" undulating shapes, in a style attributable to French artist Guy de Rougemont. Chateau Mouton Rothschild says the artwork encompasses "the clarity of vines in sunshine to the darkness of the cellars – all the stages of the birth of a great wine."

And with the new year also comes the recent announcement by the producer of their selection of the artist and art to adorn the 2012 vintage release label. So it is that the heralded Chateau recently announced the unveiling of the next vintage label with its special artwork.  

They recently revealed that the 2012 label (see below) was designed by Spanish abstract artist Miquel Barceló who used the château’s emblem, the ram, as a highlight and focal point for the work. The label features a watercolour abstract representation of two rutting rams standing on their hind legs set against a muted background of a green pasture amidst a blue sky and white clouds.  

1981 Mouton - our
daughter's birth year wine
Considered one of the most influential living Spanish artists, born in Felanitx, Majorca, the 57-year-old has had his work exhibited at the Paris Museum of Modern Art and the Louvre. He also works in sculpture, drawing, ceramics and cast iron, in addition to painting.

One of his most noted works, is the Miquel Barceló decorated ceiling of the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room, used by the United Nations Human Rights Council, in the Palace of Nations in Geneva. 

The work of art is a massive sculptural installation in the domed ceiling, officially presented to the United Nations by the Spanish government. The chamber was inaugurated by the King and Queen of Spain, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the prime ministers of Spain and Turkey, and Swiss president Pascal Couchepin. The massive 16,000 ft ² (1,500 m²) project used 100 tons of paint, took a year to produce and cost $23 million.

Our wine budget doesn't allow for acquiring Mouton with each vintage, only special years as 'special occasion' wines. Most wine consumers are limited to normal conventions of wine acquisition - every day wines, once a week or once a month wines, once a year wines, and once in a lifetime or special occasion wines. 

As the top first growth wines have escalated exorbinantly in price in recent years, they're exclusivity is limited to the well heeled few, or those acquiring special bottles for very special occasions. 

Such is the case of our collection of Mouton releases for special years such as the birth years of our kids. Even then, as those prices escalated upwards to $1000 or more per bottle, I thinned those collections to but a mere few single digit bottles. 

Shown left is the 1982 Mouton Rothschild, commemorative bottle of #1 son Ryan's birthyear! 

Shown herein are the labels of some of those special bottles. 

See my complete Mouton Label Library collection and study at .

Happy New Year!

Mouton 2012 label featuring
art by Miquel Barceló
Mouton 2011 label featuring
art by Guy de Rougemont
1993 Mouton 'blank' label
with inappropriate image