Ch Mouton Rothschild 1er Cru Pauillac 2017
Today looks set to be the busiest of the campaign so far. The releases have been led by Château Mouton Rothschild, the first First Growth of the 2017 campaign at £2,160/6, 17% down on the 2016 release price.
Mouton’s name is synonymous with excellence and class, and in 2017 its quality has been lauded by the critics. “It is a cliché but this Mouton-Rothschild is unashamedly “classic” in style”, says Neal Martin, 94-96 points, and Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW awarded it a colossal 97-99 points at The Wine Advocate.
The Mouton brand grows in stature every year, and this impressive 2017 is the latest in a string of impeccable releases. Its gravelly soils are perfect territory for Cabernet Sauvignon. The variety thrived in 2017, and at 90% of the 2017 blend, this wine has muscular stature for long term ageing, combined with exquisitely poised tannin texture.
A blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc. The winemaking team here made the most of the drawn out four week harvesting period in September to select the very best fruit for the Grand Vin. A wine true to the Mouton mould, deep garnet in colour, it has a joyous, open aroma of luscious, dark, wild fruits. The palate is broad, coating the mouth with flavours of cocoa, Arabian spices and fresh coffee beans. A full and generous style, with a lovely Pauillac drive and tannic edge, finishing beautifully bright and fresh.
The 2017 Mouton-Rothschild was picked from 7 to 29 September and matured in 100% new oak. This First Growth is driven by the Cabernet Sauvignon, as you would expect given the high percentage, expressive pencil lead and cedar that infuse the slightly introspective black fruit. Dare I say that it actually reminds me of Latour in style? The palate is medium-bodied, finely tuned and precise, a more masculine Mouton-Rothschild compared to the last three vintages, fresh with a sustained, lightly spiced finish that lingers in the mouth. That backbone is accentuated more during my second visit in mid-April. It is a cliché but this Mouton-Rothschild is unashamedly “classic” in style, perchance “le petit frère” of the 2010 Mouton-Rothschild that also contained a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon (though before you search the archives, yes, the 2011 and 2012 contained the same proportion!) Tasted twice with consistent notes. 2022 - 2050
The 2017 Mouton Rothschild has one of the highest percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon ever at 90%, with 9% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot. Very deep purple-black in color, the nose is already singing of crushed black currants, warm blackberries and chocolate-covered cherries with hints of violets, star anise, cinnamon stick and cloves plus wafts of pencil lead and unsmoked cigars. Medium-bodied, wonderfully delicate yet intense in the mouth (gaining some richness in the mid-palate on my second taste two and a half weeks later), it has super fine-grained, smooth tannins and incredible freshness, finishing very long with tons of tightly wound layers. Wow. This vintage is going to be very long-lived in the cellar!
Healthy, glowing deep crimson with soft cherry rim. Rocky/smoky cassis lift to the aroma. Fragrant with sober and non-exotic fruit. Serious. Super-fine texture, appears gentle but is very persistent, so fresh and effortless and yet intense and long. Refined and accessible but long term too. (JH) Drink 2027-2047
This is a very shy and tight Mouton with blackberries, blackcurrants and hints of terracotta. Full body and very integrated tannins that are extremely polished and beautiful. Spicy and white-pepper finish. Sexy and exciting. So long and refined.
The 2017 Mouton Rothschild is a powerful wine for the year, probably because of the high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. Dense and closed in on itself, the 2017 is likely going to require quite a bit of time to soften. Raspberry jam, pomegranate and blood orange add lift and perfume with time in the glass. There is quite a bit of energy and brightness in the 2017, but not as much immediacy as is common for the vintage. That may ultimately turn out to be a positive for the wine's long term prospects. The blend is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot. "After the frost, which did not really affect us, the major challenge in 2017 was heat stress," Mouton Technical Director Philippe Dhalluin told me. "We had no rain until the end of June. Then, in September, when we needed a bit of rain again, we got more than double what would have been optimal. The September rain affected the Merlot and Cabernet Franc, while the Cabernet Sauvignon was able to take advantage of the last 15 days of the growing season, which were much more favorable. In the cellar, we opted for longer macerations at lower temperatures, as we wanted to avoid extracting the type of hard tannins that mark other vintages with very dry summers, such as 2011."
Vibrancy is one of the key themes of the year in the most successful properties, and this has bright, plump fruit and good depth of colour, even if it's less concentrated than the past few vintages. The Pauillac first growths have done a great job in 2017, and it's hard to question the depth of fruit and richness here - there's no doubting that this is a great Mouton. Cassis and blackberry notes are delivered with precision, but there is a clear restraint that is another signature of 2017, and perhaps doesn't reflect Mouton's personality as much as some of its neighbours. There's not the same weight of tannins as 2016 (around 70 IPT this year, still a high amount), but it's a beautiful, persistent, gorgeous wine that will age gracefully. 100% new oak. (Image is the 2015 bottle; the design for the 2017 label will be revealed later). Drinking Window 2027 - 2042
Considering the dominance of Cabernet in this wine the nose is surprisingly fruit driven with both red and black fruit tones. There is some superb tannin here and it is sprinkled throughout the palate from the very first moment until the very last. This is a calm and centred wine with little fuss or fanfare and yet it has a lot of concentration and style about it. Perhaps not the DNA for superstardom, this is still a very harmonious and exciting Mouton.