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Bordeaux 2014: Chateau Mouton-Rothschild

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_6753After the last few vintages here the 2014 harvest was clearly something of a relief for Philippe Dhalluin and his team at Château Mouton-Rothschild. After scrambles to pick in 2012 and especially 2013 in the face of impending doom, 2014 proved the polar opposite. After a cool, though relatively dry August here in Pauillac, a decent vintage depended on miraculous conditions, and that is precisely what they got. The sunny, dry weather of September and October meant that after a string of vintages marred by tricky harvest weather, they finally had the time to wait and get perfect ripeness. The results speak for themselves. This is probably the strongest vintage at Mouton since 2010, with the exception of 2012 here which is no slouch. The grand vin itself is powerful, if currently backward. Fine, balanced and characterful wines have been made at Château d’Armailhac and Château Clerc Milon. 2014 is another excellent vintage for the tiny quantities of Aile d’Argent that are made on the Mouton property.

I’ve found that I usually underrate Mouton a little during primeurs. I try to re-calibrate, but while the wine often shows prodigious depth and scale, it is pretty backward compared with both Lafite and Latour at the same stage. Yet by the time the wine has a few years in bottle it often triumphs at tastings, with the blackcurrant fruit marrying with the new oak to create something wonderfully exotic, captivating and drop-dead gorgeous.

The statistics at Mouton show that 2014 was both a warm year on average [14.7C versus the fifty year average of 13.3C] and a wet year [941.7mm, versus a 874.3mm]. Still, much of the rainfall was in the winter and early stages of the growing season, and importantly, it was much drier than average in August, September and October. The harvest was between 19 September and 9 October.

The following notes were taken on a visit to Mouton on Monday, 30 March, 2015. I’ve also included notes on the other properties d’Armailhac and Clerc Milon. Helpfully, Mouton, priced sensibly this year, releasing at 240 euros a case, the same as 2012 for a case price of £2400 [$3800] per 12. Further Liv-Ex analysis can be found here.

Château d’Armailhac, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac, 2014

Deep core; purple red at edge; attractive Cabernet purity; very pretty Cab; flattering at this stage; some wet rocks; blackcurrant and oak on the palate; chew and some density; balanced with decent sense of equilibrium; has flesh and good length. [50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. 13.8% alc]. Drink 2021-2028. 89-91+

Château Clerc Milon, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac, 2014

Deep and concentrated; vibrant edge; blackcurrant and cassis; some wet rock; nice purity; attractive cool blackcurrant tones; some pretty perfume at edge; Cabernets feel dominant in the blend; spices and blackcurrants on the palate; extract and matter; some chew and more material evident than on d’Armailhac; still more closed but fraction more fruit on display on the day. [58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 29% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdit, 1% Carmenere]. Drink 2022-2030. 90-92+

Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac, 2014

Mid depth; colour quite tight to the rim; purple edge; stalky blackcurrant aromatics; little backward; palate fresh in acidity and fruit; Cabernet dominant; spicy blackcurrant tones and freshness; chew in the middle and has depth; bit backward at present – and certainly so for the usually more coquettish Petit Mouton. 2012 was much more flattering at the same stage. [93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot]. Drunk 2022-2028. 88-90

Château Mouton Rothschild, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac, 2014

Deeply coloured; vibrant edge; good depth; perfumed blackcurrants; some violet lift; freshness; cassis; layers but a little closed on the day; blackcurrant fruit on the palate; firm and sturdy; soaking up the oak; chew and extract here; plenty of matter and early days here; quite backward overall; lots of material evident and clearly has length. Needs to unwind somewhat – though clearly has density and extract. [81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 13.1% alc]. Drink 2022-2035. 94-96+

Aile d’Argent, Bordeaux Blanc, 2014

Pale green/gold; grapefruit; some wax; wax and lanolin tones on the palate; grapefruit zest but little subdued on the day; fresh finish. Bit closed currently – 2013 more knockout at the same stage. [65% Sauvignon Blanc, 35% Semillion]. Drink 2019-2025. 90-91+  

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