Bordeaux’s great matriarch Baroness Philippine de Rothschild dies aged 80


It is undoubtedly the end of a great era at Ch Mouton Rothschild and the start of a new one for the next generation of Rothschilds.

Philippine was daughter of Philippe Rothschild who in turn was one Bordeaux’s most influential proprietors in the 20th century, responsible for the introduction of Chateaux bottling at the estate as early as 1926 a revolutionary concept at the time. It was he who created the concept of the famous artist’s label for each new vintage of Mouton Rothschild, starting with the “Annee de la Victoire” in 1945. Most importantly of all oversaw the revised classification of the estate in 1973 to “Premier Cru Classe” to stand alongside the 1st growth estates of Lafite, Margaux, Latour and Haut Brion.


Following his death in 1988 whilst no doubt a daunting task, it was one that Madame de Rothschild was most certainly up to. A survivor of the holocaust and a former actress she set about the development of the Baron Philippe de Rothschild estates, firstly with the completion of his joint venture project with Robert Mondavi in California to create Opus one and then venturing further afield into Chile with Conch y Toro to create the outstanding Alma Viva.

Closer to home, in 1993 she created the 2nd label for Mouton “Le Petit Mouton” and her energy, enthusiasm and attention to detail was a vital part of the development of the Rothschild brand throughout the world.

My own personal memories are of her incredible presence and passion for the estate. At the annual primeur tastings in April every year, she was always there greeting all her visitors and showing extraordinary stamina during a long and arduous week and an undoubted knowledge for all her wines.


But most importantly it is of the famous “fete de la Fleur dinner” in 2003 hosted by Philippine at Mouton Rothschild celebrating the property’s 150th anniversary since it was founded by Baron Nathaniel Rothschild in 1853. We were served 1982 Mouton in abundance and her piece de resistance in her post dinner speech in the manner of a great actress she announced that she had written a small song plotting the history of the famous Chateau and had asked a friend to come and sing it for her and on walked Placido Domingo… This more than anything sums up her incredible style and she has left a lasting impression and memory to so many of us in the wine trade.

She is survived by her three children, Camille, Philippe and Julien who have a close involvement with the estate.