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Bordeaux Primeurs 2013: Château Mouton Rothschild

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_5649Château Mouton Rothschild has made sturdy Pauillac in 2013. There is plenty of blackcurrant fruit, weight, and almost generosity here, although it finishes a fraction hard currently. Le Petit Mouton has attractive blackcurrant tones though it is not the beauty the 2012 was at the same stage – different vintage, different wines. The real delight here in 2013 is Aile d’Argent. This is one of the white wines of the vintage for me. While white is obviously not the main event here, it certainly stole the show.

With the weather closing in and a potentially spectacular spread of botrytis on the cards, Mouton managed to conjure up close to seven hundred pickers to bring the harvest in quick and avert catastrophe. The entire crop was picked between September 30 and October 9. Despite this, and all the problems caused earlier in the year with an exceptionally wet and cold start to the growing season, Mouton managing director Philippe Dhalluin was happy enough with how things turned out in the end. There was obviously a big compromise to be struck on tannin ripeness in order to get the harvest picked quickly but the hot and sunny weather in July and August at least had provided fruit with reasonable condition, without any weedy or green characters. ‘It wasn’t 1992’, said Dhalluin, ‘then the fruit was coming in at 10.5 degrees and with green tannins.’

116Philippe Dhalluin: 2013 ‘not 1992’

In that respect Dhalluin said he felt that the vintage separated the men from the boys. While 2013 was difficult and capricious, it was nowhere near as tough as some past years and those who had experience of these vintages knew the score. He describes 2013 for Mouton as ‘a crispy vintage with vibrant fruit.’ In vinifying [in the beautiful new cellars] his main intention was to preserve that vibrancy. Down the line he may reduce the time in oak to preserve the fruit too. Certainly there is more acidity in 2013 than in 2007. It does give life and freshness.

Also tasted were Château d’Armailhac and Château Clerc Milon. The latter was the more impressive for me. It is quite bold with good clean flavours, perhaps a little compact, but this is the vintage. The notes are below.


There is real joy this year though in the form of the white wine, Aile d’Argent. For me this is up there with the best whites of Pessac-Léognan. It comes from five small plots of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon on the Mouton property. The wine is fermented in oak for mouthfeel as much as anything, not to pick up on the characteristics of the wood, and they are gradually reducing the percentage of new oak. The 2013 has wonderful aromatics, flavours and texture. Great stuff!

Prices? Mouton released this year hot on the heels of Lafite and was similarly down in price percentage wise [in this case 10% on 2012] at 216 euros per bottle. That translates to a UK trade price of £2500 [$4250]. For Liv-Ex analysis on that release click here.

The following wines were tasted at Mouton on 1/4/14:

Château Mouton Rothschild, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac

Deep at core; vibrant purple at edge; stalky blackcurrant fruits; some depth; some stones and wet pebble notes; palate has weight and some generosity; quite a serious finish; trifle hard on the end perhaps; this is has weight and solidity but lacks a little charm at this stage. Hopefully will put on more gloss during elévage. [89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2020-2030. 90-92

Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac

Mid depth; glossy; some toast and blackcurrant notes; cool fruit tones; solid palate; compact and sturdy if slightly clipped. Plenty of chew; sturdy if a little four square. Not drop-dead gorgeous as it was in 2012. 2013 looks fairly plain Jane by comparison. [93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot]. Drink 2018-2025. 87-88+

Château Clerc Milon, Cru Classé, Pauillac

Vibrant purple; glossy and healthy looking; nice blackcurrant fruit on the nose; cassis; feels fuller than d’Armailhac; oak and fruit on the palate; little compact but has structure; blackcurrants, some wood; lacks a bit of concentration at the back; should fill out. [58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Carmenere]. Drink 2018-2027. 87-89+

Château d’Armailhac, Cru Classé, Pauillac

Deep at centre; purple at edge; vibrant looking; attractive perfume; lift and blackcurrants; cool fruit tones; chewy fruit on the palate; some spice; quite polished; feels bit compact; wood showing a bit; lacks a bit of charm at present; solid; some grip though not puckering; still a bit clipped overall. [59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot]. Drink 2018-2025. 86-88

Aile d’Argent, Bordeaux Blanc

Pale golden with a hint of green; lively grapefruit, melon and some cream; lees contact notes; very vivacious; very attractive and best Aile d’Argent I’ve had by a mile; passion fruit and grapefruit tones on the palate alongside hints of cashew; real weight but also zap. Really terrific effort. [67% Sauvignon Blanc, 33% Sémillon]. Drink 2016-2022. 92-94+

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