Château Mouton-Rothschild: The Labels

The first vintage of Château Mouton-Rothschild to wear a label specifically designed for this purpose was the 1924, once Baron Philippe had moved from marketing wines in barrel to château-bottling. There were definite benefits to this new practice; the Mouton-Rothschild label was intended to act as a guarantee of not just origin but also quality. Others followed suit and within half a century domaine bottling would become the norm throughout the region; following the Cruse scandal of the 1970s it would eventually become a stipulated requirement, enshrined in law in 1972.

The first label was designed by cubist Jean Carlu (1900 – 1997), and was personally signed by Philippe himself. For the next few decades there were only a few modifications to this label, otherwise it remained essentially unchanged, except for 1938, 1939 and 1940 when it went unsigned; Philippe was not there to place his mark on the labels. Having been imprisoned in Vichy at the start of World War II, he then escaped to England; his estranged wife, Elisabeth Pelletier de Chambure (1902 – 1945), was less fortunate. She died in a concentration camp.

Following the end of the war Philippe de Rothschild regained control of his estate, it having served as a military headquarters with barracks used by German troops, the product of the vineyard having been bottled under the direct supervision of Goering himself. It had not been well treated, and as I indicated in my introduction many of the historical resource materials held at the estate had been destroyed. Repairs and revitalisation were needed both in the vineyards and buildings, and these were duly undertaken, but there was still, despite this personal tragedy, a need to celebrate the long awaited arrival of peace. A new label was commissioned to replace the Jean Carlu design; it featured a V for Victory design created by artist Philippe Jullian (1919 – 1977). This was the beginning of a new feature, unique to Château Mouton-Rothschild, as Philippe continued with a newly commissioned label every year thereafter.

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