Thursday, June 13, 2019

Wine Bottle Weight, Shape, Glass and Label Design Changes Over Time (Post 2): Chateau Mouton Rothschild

Wine Bottle Weight, Shape, Glass 

and Label Design Changes Over Time 

(Post 2): Chateau Mouton Rothschild

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2024 Label
by © LeDomduVin 2019
Tribute to Jean Carlu

Apology letter 

To the owners of Chateau Mouton Rothschild

My deepest and most sincere apologies to the owners of Château Mouton-Rothschild, Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, Camille Sereys de Rothschild and Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild, (for whom I have profound respect and did not mean any harm to, more especially that I had the chance to meet your mother, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild several times during my 28 years career and had lots of admiration for her lively personality, her strength of character and her addictive "joie-de-vivre"), for taking such liberty and presenting my work for the label of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 2024 vintage in such manner (😉). 

But, it is a tradition for me to begin my posts with an illustration of mine (usually a photo, or a drawing, or a collage, etc...) specially made to introduce the subject of the post; and I thought about a (funny) tribute to Jean Carlu to celebrate the centenary of the iconic label he created back in 1924. I personally love his 1924 label (from the Art-Deco / Cubism era), which was used as the background for the coat of arms, (with the rams on each side), appearing on the label of the following vintage, 1925, and has remained there ever since. See in my creation an unintended subliminal message may be... 

Also, as this post is mostly about Chateau Mouton-Rothschild label design changes, (which have occurred over the last 120 years), I wanted to add a dash of humor by creating this "imitation" label to see if people will fall for it, at first sight, looking at a potentially genuine label (you never know, some people not looking too closely at first glance might think it could be....). 

Moreover, as most of my illustrations usually tend to be either funny or sarcastic, or, a bit more cerebral sometimes with "rather-french" 2nd-degree jokes and metaphorical sense of humour... (I see some of you scratching their head sometimes, when looking at my illustrations, prior to getting the joke only after a few seconds of consideration...), sort of gimmicks to amuse my readers and a more "ludique" (playful) way to help digest all the contents of my posts, often too long, too detailed and irritably too often derivating from and hence losing focus on the original subject... (sorry, that's the way my mind works and that's also my writing style in both French and English....sigh...), I could not resist the temptation to start this post on such an iconic Bordeaux wine with a label of my own creation.  

I hope you will forgive me and be merciful for the liberty I took to create this label for a vintage that has yet to come and without you commissioning me to do it. Yet, I'll appreciate if you could consider it as a potential candidate label for this particular vintage.... (No worries if you don't, but I had to ask... you never know...😉)

Thank you for your understanding. 

Deepest regards,

Sincerely yours, 


Ok, now that my apology is out of the way, and without further ado, let's move on to the post. A lengthy post again, but with some really interesting details, facts and stories, as I always try to provide you within most of my posts.

FYI: I did the collage below of Mouton Rothschild bottles and labels (over the last 120 years) and, (as usual), started to write quite intensively (in a previous post), about the history and design evolution of these particular labels of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, when I realized how long this previous post was already. So, I cut the content of the previous post on Chateau Mouton-Rothschild (post 1), and paste it in this brand new post (post 2), solely dedicated to the history and design evolution of the labels of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild over the last 120 years, to which I added a few more chapters on the bottle shape, weight and glass used for the Mouton's bottles (like I did for Chateau Latour in the previous post). Read the previous post (post 1) on the bottle's weight, shape, color and glass (featuring among others, Château Latour)  here 


Chateau Mouton Rothschild

Chateau Mouton-Rothschild Label Designs over the last 120 years 
by ©LeDomduVin 2019

Château Mouton-Rothschild is probably the best example to take for the bottle and more especially the label changes, as it is one of the only (if not THE only) Châteaux or wine estate in the world that has changed its label design so many times over the years.

Like all great stories, it begins by "Once upon a time,..." Baron Philippe de Rothschild commissioned Jean Carlu (1900-1997), a graphic artist, famous for his poster works regarded as an expression of the dominant artistic movement at that time called the "Cubism", to create the label of the 1924 vintage.

Yet, it is only in 1945, to commemorate the "Victory" and the end of World War II, that Baron Philippe started and established what will become a tradition with all the labels of the subsequent vintages, by commissioning another contemporary artist to design the label of Mouton-Rothschild 1945 vintage. This time, he commissioned a young, unknown artist named Philippe Jullian (1921-1977), who displayed early promise as a designer and became a successful dramatist. After Jullian submitted several drafts, Baron Philippe chose the one based on the famous “V for Victory” that Churchill used throughout the war to rally the forces of freedom.

And the tradition of commissioning a contemporary artist to embellish and revamp the label design of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild for each vintage was born. The rest is history.   

Brief history and details for each of the label design changes on the bottles in the collage above

In the collage above, instead of putting all the labels since 1945 (like on the picture further below), I wanted to focus only on the main label design changes of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild (***):

  • 1853 - Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild (1812-1870), of the English branch of the eponymous family, bought the Château Brane-Mouton for a sum of 1,125,000 francs (or roughly 172,000 Euros, a colossal sum at the time) and immediately renamed the Château "Mouton-Rothschild". The vineyard at this time was in bad shape as it had been no longer maintained for a few years, as the only building was an old dilapidated farm offering no living or sleeping accommodation possibility and thus the owners never lived on site and were just appointing someone as a manager to take care of the vineyards and the wine. Baron Nathaniel, living in Paris at that time, appointed Theodore Galos, a Bordeaux Negociant who also owned a few vineyards, as the estate manager. Within 2-3 years, Theodore rapidly upgraded and restored the vineyard and the cellars.

Chateau Mouton Rothschild Vintage 1855 Label -
©LeDomduVin 2019

  • 1855 - Exposition Universelle de Paris and Bordeaux Classifications - The Emperor Napoleon III requested from the members of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Bordeaux to produce a ranking of the most prestigious properties of Bordeaux, to be presented at the Universal Exhibition of Paris (World Fair), which took place from May 15 to November 15 1855 on the Champs Elysees. This classification was based on the reputation, the notoriety and the price of these properties (since, at least, ten or even fifty years according to some sources), these prices being directly related to the quality of the wines at this time. Despite the efforts of Theodore Galos to restore the vineyards and cellars in order to increase the value of the property (which was on the rise at that time), Mouton-Rothschild was not classified as a first growth, which seems logical considering that the selection criteria was based on the property prices over fifty years, and knowing the fact that the vineyards and the farm were left unattended for years by owners not leaving on site, thus diminishing the value of the estate. Not having a proper Chateau or mansion on site and being recently acquired by a British probably did not help either. However, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild was still classified as a 2nd Growth in the classification. From 1855 to 1888, the labels only mentioned "Mouton" (not yet "Chateau Mouton Rothschild") and bore the name of "R. Galos" named after "Roche Galos", the estate manager at that time.

NB: For those of you who might wonder (like I did), I was not able to find any info regarding the link between "Theodore Galos" and "Roche Galos", both supposedly being the estate manager of Chateau Mouton Rothschild at that period, and both appearing in many texts and references on the history of the Chateau. Are they two different persons? Or are they the same person? If anyone knows, please let me know, I will be very interested to know. More especially knowing that officially "Theodore Galos" was appointed by Baron Nathaniel as the estate manager and has been credited for restoring the vineyards and cellars; while "Roche Galos" is also mentioned in many texts as the estate manager and his name appears on the labels between 1855 and 1888. I read countless articles and even extracts of books on the subject, and I still could not figure it out. So, if you did, please tell me. 

  • 1880 - The son of Nathaniel de Rothschild, Baron James de Rothschild (1844-1881), began construction of the Chateau and named it: Petit Mouton

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1889 Label -
Photo courtesy of

  • 1889 - "Baron de Miollis" Label - Baron Augustin de Miollis (1864-1939) was appointed estate manager, the labels still only mentioned "Mouton" (not yet "Chateau Mouton Rothschild") and from 1889 to 1920 bore the name of "Bon de Miollis". You can also notice the first few changes on the label:
  • The name of the appointed manager changed from "R. Galos" to "Bon de Miollis", "Bon de Miollis - Gérant", which translate to "Baron de Miollis - Manager" 
  • The name of the owner of the Chateau changed from "Baron de Rothschild, Propriétaire" to "Hers du Bon de Rothschild Propres", which is the abbreviation of "Heritiers de Baron de Rothschild Propriétaires"  
  • The wines were still not bottled and labelled at the Chateau at that time, but by a 3rd party, usually, a Négociant, buying the wine, then taking care of the bottling and labelling, and even the ageing sometimes; or by someone appointed as the estate manager also in charge of the bottling and labelling. 

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1900 Label -
Photo courtesy of

  • 1900 - The turn of the century, still showcasing the "Baron de Miollis" Label (1889-1920) 

Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1920 Label

  • 1920 - The label is redesigned: The Baron introduced on the label the design of the stylized Château as well as a bundle of 5 arrows, but still without preceding the name "Mouton" with the term "Château", while the Négociants (Bordeaux Wine Merchants/Traders) already used the name "Château Mouton". It is interesting to notice that the notion of provenance is now clarified with the addition of "Pauillac, Gironde" on the label (then "Pauillac, Médoc" later on) to precise the Appellation of Origin. The owner's name has also changed to "Baron Henri de Rothschild", one of the 2 sons of Nathaniel de Rothschild, who took over after the passing of his father in 1870, but let the Chateau being run by the manager in place, Baron de Miollis, and the Cellar Master Gustave Bonnefours.   

    • 1922 - A new era began for Chateau Mouton-Rothchild: On October 22, 1922, the grandson of Nathaniel de Rothschild and second son of Henri de Rothschild, Philippe de Rothschild (1902-1988) took the direction of the property provided that he stops car racings. Philippe immediately came up with one of his most famous quotes, which he gave as a motto to the Chateau: "Premier ne puis, second ne daigne, Mouton suis", which translate to "First I could not, second I do not deign, Mouton I am". Under Philippe's direction, the estate will take off and reach the glory it deserved.

    Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1924 Label 

      • 1924 - First real label design change: In 1924, on the initiative of Baron Philippe de Rothschild, all the wines produced are, for the first time, bottled at the château (at the same time and in agreement with Château Margaux). To mark this event, the Baron commissioned Jean Carlu (1900-1997), a graphic artist, famous for his poster works regarded as an expression of the dominant artistic movement at that time, called the "Cubism", to create the label of the 1924 vintage. This same label has also been used for 1918, 1920, 1921 and 1926 vintage, (according to a source) some labelled that way due to late released bottles from the Chateau for the famous wine retailer chain (caviste) "Etablissements Nicolas" (founded back in 1822).

      Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1925 Label

      • 1925 - Once more the label is redesigned and resemble a little to what it will become later on. The lines are clean, elegant and refined, and despite being heavily criticized at the time, this label will be used for the 1925, 1926 and 1928 vintage, along with the other label designed by Jean Carlu above, which has also been used for the 1926 vintage for example. Notice the details of the "logo", specifically created for Chateau Mouton Rothschild, representing two rams, standing on an unmarked ribbon, on each side of a coat of arms shield featuring the details of the 1924 vintage label created by Jean Carlu, surmounted by a crown (and what could be vines atop the crown? not sure..) and a blank ribbon underneath.  

      Carruades de Mouton Rothschild 1927 Label

      • 1927 - The harvest was mediocre, therefore Baron Philippe decided that there will be no wine sold under "Château Mouton-Rothschild", instead, the wine produced on that particular vintage was sold under the name of "Carruades de Mouton-Rothschild". Baron Philippe commissioned Jean Carlu again to create a special label for this vintage. 

      "Le Second Vin" 1993 and "Le Petit Mouton" 1994
      de Mouton Rothschild labels

      NB: This specific label was re-used in 1993 for the 2nd wine under the name of "Le Deuxieme Vin de Mouton Rothschild", then again in 1994 under the definitive name of "Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild", a name that has remained the same ever since.

      Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1929 Label

      • 1929 - Back to a similar label than the one of the 1925 vintage, yet, with a redesigned "logo" (or "Emblème" or "Ecu" or "Blason" or "Coat of Arms", or whatever else you call it), I call it "logo", as a "Blason" or "Coat of Arms" is usually attributed to a family with royal, noble or military roots passed on generations, while the "logo" on this label was specifically created for Château Mouton Rothschild for the 1925 vintage label (see above). It was redesigned with larger and more defined details of the similar figures and details already present on the 1925 label. When comparing 1925 and 1929 label, both logos represent two rams, standing on an unmarked ribbon, on each side of a coat of arms shield featuring the details of the 1924 vintage label created by Jean Carlu, surmounted by a crown.  This label will be used for the 1929 to 1931 vintage. No wine was produced under Chateau Mouton Rothschild in 1930 and 1932, only under Mouton Cadet.  

      • 1930 - I couldn't find any label of Chateau Mouton Rothschild on that vintage, but it is important to state that Mouton-Cadet (which is not a second wine, but a second label, meaning that it is a wine on his own, rather than being, like the second wine, related to the "Grand Vin" (common name for the "first wine" of the Chateaux in Bordeaux)), was launched with the vintage 1930. It presents a more complex label with more writings, with the signature of the Cellar Master, and the "logo" or "coat of arms" of both siblings: Mouton Rothschild and Mouton d'Armailhacq

      Chateau Mouton d'Armailhacq 1933 Label

      • 1931 - Comte Roger de Ferrand, owner of Chateau d'Armailhacq, launches the limited company "Domaine de  Mouton d'Armailhacq" regrouping 3500 shares of 1000 French francs each. Baron Philippe de Rothschild becomes a minority shareholder.
      • 1933 - the domain of Armailhacq is sold in life to the Baron de Rothschild and in 1934, the count of Ferrand dies.

      💢 Work in progress, to be finished soon 💢

      Here is the collection of Mouton-Rothschild labels from 1945 to 2013 (photo courtesy of

      Chateau Mouton Rothschild Labels from 1945 to 2013 -
      photo courtesy of

      💢 Work in progress, to be finished soon 💢

      Chateau Mouton Rothschild Full and Empty bottles
      1947, 1949, 1970, 1982, 1990 and 1995
      - photo ©LeDomduVin 2019

      Like for Château Latour previously, looking at this picture I took of various vintages of Château Mouton Rothschild, you easily notice the changes and evolution of the bottle and label shape and size, as well as the differences in the thickness and heaviness of the glass used. You can also notice the differences and evolution of the capsules.

      • Château Mouton Rothschild 1947 and 1949 - the bottle is tall, with broad shoulders and heavy, thick, dark color glass; the front label(s) is small (smaller than later versions) 
      • Château Mouton Rothschild 1970 and 1982 - the bottle is slightly smaller, leaner, lighter in weight and lighter in color too, and was made with less heavy and less thick glass than 1947 and 1949
      • Château Mouton Rothschild 1990 and 1995 - the bottle is about the same heights as 1970/1982, yet with slightly higher and broader shoulders, and slightly darker and thicker, heavier glass too. Still not as tall, broad, thick, heavy and dark as 1947/1949   

      💢 Work in progress, to be finished soon 💢

      Santé! Cheers!

      LeDomduVin a.k.a. Dominique Noël

      (*) Info about Chateau Mouton-Rothschild was taken or partly taken from the Château website at, but also from a very interesting and useful online book (in French) by Philippe Margot, titled "L'intégral des étiquettes de Château Mouton-Rothschild de 1855 à aujourd'hui" that you can read here

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