I read, with great interest, Stephen Brook's interview with Philippine de Rothschild of Mouton and Eric de Rothschild of Lafite in the latest Decanter. Although they are on friendly terms now, the cousins seemed to have conflicting opinions on almost every question.

It got me to thinking about the similarities and contrasts between the two wines, which come from adjacent vineyards. My own experience with them is limited to just a few tastings of very young wines, where I've clearly preferred Lafite. The WS ratings each year seem to favour Lafite rather consistently as well.

What has been the experience with the mature wines? Does one consistently win over the other when at full maturity? In light of the quality of recent vintages, did Mouton really deserve its promotion to first growth (i.e. is it really that much better than Leoville Las Cases or Cos D'Estournel?
Original Post
quote:
Originally posted by elmo:
Mouton did make great wines in 1945,1947, 1955,1959,1961,1982,1986,1995,2000,2003 and 2005. However, there are to many years when it is below first growth standards.


I can say the same thing about other First Growth's.

Mouton is a fine First Growth.
quote:
What has been the experience with the mature wines? Does one consistently win over the other when at full maturity?


1. For me, I've enjoyed mature Lafite over Mouton more often. However, I'm not a huge fan of either consisdering the prices they're at now....especially Lafite.

2. I think this depends on who you talk to. They've both made plenty of great wines over the years. They are also very different styles, so I would say it's more of a stylistic preference for which wine suites your fancy. Lafite is more precise and elegant and Mouton tends to be more muscular and chunky. I like precise and elegant myself. Wink
elmo, you left out the 1952, 1953, and 1962.

I've done a lot of horizontals over the years and in my opinion, of the First Growths, Haut Brion is far and away the most consistent. I believe Mouton would be my pick for the most number of years since 1947 that it was the best of the First Growths.
Ahhh, the nose of Margaux. I wish I could taste lots of vintages of all the first growths so I could have an opinion. That would be fun.

On one occasion I got to taste several in one sitting (thanks MD Crew!)...
89/90 Lafite
83/90 Margaux
90 Haut Brion

The Lafites seemed almost vanilla or middle of the road in style, but were so top notch in every aspect. Like the idealized wine.

Haut Brion I remember having such a distinctive taste that, given more opportunity, could make a run at being my favorite.

The nose on the Margaux is something that I'll dream of forever. That could be my favorite, too.

After that event, I did have a '96 Mouton, the only Mouton I've tried so far, though I have an '83 in the wings. Satiny smooth.


Now regarding Mouton vs Lafite... For some reason I always ended up feeling like Lafite was the bad guy and Mouton the protagonist after reading different accounts of the promotion to 1st Growth. But I have also noticed it seems like Mouton, while able to excel and be the best (like Leoville Las Cases does sometimes), generally seems to average a lower score from WS.

It would be lots of fun if Mouton was still a second growth and hovering at second growth prices.
I like Lafite better as others have said. I don't think Mouton deserved the upgrade, there are some extremely good second growths out there. SOmeone posted a statistical analysis of the growths a while back, and it looked as though some of the super-seconds were right there with mouton. Pretty bottle art though!
quote:
Which of the two perform better in the weaker vintages? The only ones I will be able to afford will be in the lesser vintages like 1999, 2002, 2004.


'99 - Lafite is the better wine. Although Mouton is very good...just not 1st growth good.

'02 - This Mouton is very good....better than the '99 (also more ageworthy). Haven't had the Lafite.

'04 - Haven't had either.
quote:
Originally posted by mitPradikat:
Here's a related question:

Which of the two perform better in the weaker vintages? The only ones I will be able to afford will be in the lesser vintages like 1999, 2002, 2004.

Thanks.


Here are some notes and comments on a tasting that included all of the 99 first growths.

My first growth experience is limited to the 99 and 01 vintages with that 88 Mouton thrown in. Mouton gets the nod from me.
quote:
Originally posted by dr.darkrichandbold:
quote:
Which of the two perform better in the weaker vintages? The only ones I will be able to afford will be in the lesser vintages like 1999, 2002, 2004.




'04 - Haven't had either.



What? Eek Razz Wink

I have had them all at trade tastings.

For 1999, the Lafite is a world class wine, and should be in everyone's cellar, period!

As for 2001, 2003 & 2004, buy all three from both Lafite and Mouton. While these are not classic/great vintages per se, I think you will be very glad you bought, and excellent value for First Growth.

On a side note, there are many wonderful lesser '99 Bordeaux drinking well currently and very fairly priced.
quote:
Originally posted by wine+art:
For 1999, the Lafite is a world class wine, and should be in everyone's cellar, period!

As for 2001, 2003 & 2004, buy all three from both Lafite and Mouton. While these are not classic/great vintages per se, I think you will be very glad you bought, and excellent value for First Growth.

On a side note, there are many wonderful lesser '99 Bordeaux drinking well currently and very fairly priced.

That's a lot of info in one posting, jedi.
Thank you. Wink
quote:
On a side note, there are many wonderful lesser '99 Bordeaux drinking well currently and very fairly priced.


I don't know how "lesser" it is, but the '99 Palmer is very nice.

I have never had a great, mature, vintage of Mouton, so I cannot comment. But I have had great, mature, vintages of all the other first growths and I can say, based upon my experiences, that Lafite is my least favorite of the other first growths and Haut Brion is easily my favorite. Latour I probably prefer to Margaux, but it is close and I really haven't tasted enough vintages of either to be sure.
quote:
Originally posted by mitPradikat:
Just picked up my first ever bottle of first growth: 2004 Haut Brion for $260 Canadian. WS gave it 95 points.

The Lafite and Mouton were both about $150 more.

I hope I got a good deal!

===============================================


Very nice. Haut Brion rarely disappoints.

I'm a bigger fan of 2004 than many, and think many/most will start to reward around 2012-2014 forward.

It is nice not to have to wait for 20+ years to enjoy. Smile
quote:
Originally posted by wine+art:
quote:
Originally posted by mitPradikat:
Just picked up my first ever bottle of first growth: 2004 Haut Brion for $260 Canadian. WS gave it 95 points.

The Lafite and Mouton were both about $150 more.

I hope I got a good deal!

===============================================


Very nice. Haut Brion rarely disappoints.

I'm a bigger fan of 2004 than many, and think many/most will start to reward around 2012-2014 forward.

It is nice not to have to wait for 20+ years to enjoy. Smile

w+a-

What are your thoughts on 1996? Drink or hold?
quote:
Originally posted by wine+art:
quote:
Originally posted by gigabit:

w+a-

What are your thoughts on 1996? Drink or hold?



1996 in general, or a specific wine?

In general, I would hold Left Bank, and start drinking Right Bank... in general. Wink

I only have Left-Bank wines, but no 1st Growths. I wasn't planning on opening any of them for 3-5 years.
quote:
Originally posted by gigabit:

What are your thoughts on 1996? Drink or hold?


Regarding one specific wine, I had the 1996 Smith Haut Lafitte this past summer. To me, it seemed to be perfectly mature and singing along at its peak. I think it would have held on for a few more years before declining, but I didn't think it had more to offer from further cellaring. Then again, this wine seems to generally be a medium term cellaring wine.

================================================
Have to agree with w+a, to suggest Mouton doesn't belong is just plain silly. I have had most vintages of both wines from 59 on and many, many of the vintages for both wines are very special. I would in general say that the Mouton style tends toward the slightly more extroverted and flattering while Lafite is really the most statesman like of the Paulliac first growth; great sense of place, wonderful, stoic wines. I agree that the 1999 Lafite is very special...but the 99 Mouton is very good too. As is the 93. As was the 83. The 2000 Mouton is an amazingly layered, concentrated wine...as is the 96 Lafite. Both chateau are worthy of the staus they have worked so very hard to obtain.
quote:
Originally posted by mitPradikat:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by gigabit:

What are your thoughts on 1996? Drink or hold?


Lot of expereince with 96. Many can be held confidently for a long time, having just checked in on Leoville Poyferre, Pape Clement and Dom de Chevalier. Some of the second labels (just had the Duhart Millon and the pagode de cos last week)are ready and even beyond ready right now.
quote:
Originally posted by wine+art:
quote:
Originally posted by gigabit:

I only have Left-Bank wines, but no 1st Growths. I wasn't planning on opening any of them for 3-5 years.



I think that is a perfect plan, and would not hesitate to visit them at 15 or so years.


I've had some '96s that still needed time, but some that did not. The '96 Pichon Baron is open for business and may not be getting much better, though I'm sure it will last at least 10 more years before beginning to fade.

Also, if you have some of the top non-classed wines such as Poujeaux, those are doing well right now (though th Sociando-Mallet is probably still on the upswing)
Because 96 is the birth year of my triplet boys and therefore they are turning 13 this year we are having a very thorough horizontal of the 96 vintage worldwide in May, including 1st growth Bordeaux. There will also be red burgs, champagne, chablis, barolo, some cali wines, vega sicilia, aussie 1st growths, etc...

I'll report back.
quote:
Originally posted by winemuser:
Because 96 is the birth year of my triplet boys and therefore they are turning 13 this year we are having a very thorough horizontal of the 96 vintage worldwide in May, including 1st growth Bordeaux. There will also be red burgs, champagne, chablis, barolo, some cali wines, vega sicilia, aussie 1st growths, etc...

I'll report back.


13?

I'm guessing you are a fellow MOT?

Are your boys partaking? Will they understand at all what they are drinking?
quote:
Originally posted by winetarelli:
quote:
Originally posted by winemuser:
Because 96 is the birth year of my triplet boys and therefore they are turning 13 this year we are having a very thorough horizontal of the 96 vintage worldwide in May, including 1st growth Bordeaux. There will also be red burgs, champagne, chablis, barolo, some cali wines, vega sicilia, aussie 1st growths, etc...

I'll report back.


13?

Big Grin No kidding. If I were you, I'd give a photograph of the triplets to the managers of the local Kinko's, attached to a reward if they spot your boys running off large quantities of flyers a week before. And, in case invites go out via text/twitter, hire a rent-a-cop to turn the party crashers away at the door.
quote:
Originally posted by winemuser:
Because 96 is the birth year of my triplet boys and therefore they are turning 13 this year we are having a very thorough horizontal of the 96 vintage worldwide in May, including 1st growth Bordeaux. There will also be red burgs, champagne, chablis, barolo, some cali wines, vega sicilia, aussie 1st growths, etc...

I'll report back.
Sounds fantastic, those kids are going to get crunk though.
Forget Mouton vs Lafite- How about Leoville Las Cases vs Lafite!

For the seven most recent modern vintages 2000-2006 scored by Wine Spectator, these are the total points:

678 - Latour
675 - Leoville Las Cases
673 - Lafite Rothschild
670 - Margaux
667 - Haut Brion
665 - Cos d'Estournel
654 - Mouton Rothschild

Mathematically, it's clear that Mouton should be demoted and Las Cases elevated.

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