Château Mouton-Rothschild Vertical, 2008

Having not long assessed the 2007 Bordeaux vintage during the annual primeur tastings, which was a fabulous experience (regardless of the quality of the wines, which in many cases was not so fabulous), it seems only right that I should bring these Mouton notes to the fore. Unfortunately, no direct comparisons between the two will be possible, as although my brief but busy trip included tastings of all the other left bank first growths, as well as Ausone, Cheval Blanc, Petrus and Le Pin on the right bank, Mouton-Rothschild was absent. With so many chateaux requiring appointments, and time so limited, there are I suppose always some casualties, even at this level. Tant pis! Not to worry; just a few months before the 2007 tastings I had been able to considerably broaden my experience of Mouton in a vertical tasting organised by Decanter, and led by Mouton director Hervé Berland. There was no 2007 vintage, to show it would have been rather pointless; instead, a selection of wines including the second wine Petit Mouton, the white Aile d’Argent and several carefully chosen vintages of the grand vin.

Château Mouton-Rothschild

The white wines were up first, with the 2005 Aile d’Argent contrasted against the 1998 vintage. The literal translation of the name usually produces the phrase silver wing, which was the name of a magic teapot that was central to a children’s story recounted by Baron Philippe Rothschild to his daughter, now Baroness Philippine, when she was a young girl. Whilst imprisoned during World War II the baron put the story onto paper, and it was subsequently published, under the title Aile d’Argent la Magique, in 1947. The wine is dominated by Sauvignon Blanc, fermented in oak which is 50% new each vintage, and then held in the barrels for nine months before bottling. As for the two wines on show, I preferred the 2005 to the more mature 1998, as even though the former had the opulent fruit and relatively shy acidity of the vintage it still showed a good freshness. The 1998 was much more elegantly composed, silky and integrated, but I think the 2005 will be a greater wine in time.

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