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Mouton Magic

Mouton-Rothschild has really pulled it out of the bag with its 2014 artist collaboration, which is the work of none other than David Hockney, the iconic British artist who now resides in California.

Legend Hockney (forgive me and please bear with me, I’m biased), made the journey over to London a couple of weeks ago to unveil his creation with the Rothschild dynasty in the company of about 50 guests, of which I was privileged to be one.

Here's the man himself unveiling his creation...

It is serendipity that the Rothschild family has capitalised on Hockney being man of the moment, what with exhibitions in London and Paris this year. The choice of Hockney for 2014 was actually to celebrate and commemorate the life of Baronness Philippine de Rothschild which sadly ended in 2014, and Hockney was her dear friend. Naturally then, Hockney wanted to pay tribute to her colourful positivity and creativity, and this is how it was finally interpreted.

Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, Philippine’s son, told me of the moment when Hockney’s creation finally came in, overnight by email from California. “David sent 6, 7 ,10, 15 versions… I can’t remember exactly how many. My brother (Julian de Beaumarchais Rothschild) was sweating away waiting for the drawing to come in and he finally got them at about 2am when his mailbox was suddenly invaded with all these different versions, and I kept getting these messages from my brother asking me what I thought of this one and that one. It was a very funny moment.”

Philippe elaborated on the process of getting an artist on board each year. “The whole process is time-consuming and disorganised. Time-consuming because we really deal with the artist directly. It has been that way since 1945 and it’s really important to us, so they are understand what Mouton is about and what the relationship between wine and art is all about.

"Secondly, it is disorganised,” he continues, “because we really pick the people we like, but artists can be unpredictable. Some say yes, some say no and some say yes but later on say they do not have the time. You can’t organise them and we do not want to, so you have to try to move the way they move to make it work.”

Later on, speaking to me about whether 2014 is an investment year (following the controversial pricing of the previous difficult three harvest and consequent en primeur campaigns), Philippe pointed out on a typically optimistic note that the “intermediary years” (what a great phrase for the tricky vintages, I thought!) are needed by the châteaux, he explained, “in the very good years we need to wait 20 years to drink these wines so I like the intermediary years and don’t think there is anything negative about them at all.

“That said, even though we didn’t want the 2014 prices to be aggressive on the market, it just so happens that people who have bought 2014 are ‘in the money’. Whether they are in the money +10% or +20% I don’t know, but they haven’t lost money which is good news. I don’t care if they made money but I do care if it’s -20% or -30%. As long as positive we’re happy.”

And happy they should be with the 2014 label too, because it’s a joyous, happy design. You see? I told you I was biased!