It has been a few years since I have visited Bordeaux. The last time was an unbelievable 36 hour trip as a guest of Chateau Clerc Milon to celebrate Prix Clerc Milon de la Danse in 2018. Since then I have been honored to be sent a press release of each new label release.
As a winner of the Millesime Writing Competition, I was privileged to spend a week in Bordeaux during En Premeur week. In addition to tasting exceptional wines, we were whisked away from Chateau to Chateau. We were treated like royalty, but one of my favorite memories was lunch with the Rothschild family; as close to royalty of Bordeaux as you can get. It is difficult to describe what it was like to be in a room with this incredible family of wine, but I can say that having the opportunity to talk wine with the managing director, is a memory that I will always cherish.
In case you are not familiar with the labels of Mouton Rothschild, in 1945 Baron Philippe established the tradition of having the most exceptional artists design the label. This has become a hallmark for Mouton Rothschild. Just a handful of artists who have designed labels include Picasso, Miró, Chagall and Dali. The artists are given complete artistic freedom to design the label. You can see all the labels here.
I am honored to be able to share this year’s official release with you. All information is directly from Mouton Rothschild’s press release sent to me:
The label for Château Mouton Rothschild 2020, illustrated by Peter Doig
A British painter of Scottish origin who divides his time between London and Trinidad, Peter Doig is the artist chosen by Château Mouton Rothschild to create the original artwork to illustrate the label for its 2020 vintage.
In his work for the label, the painter combines echoes of Cézanne and van Gogh with a fascinating personal reverie on the nocturnal birth of a great wine, seemingly brought to life by the strange magic of a song played on the guitar.
The painting is a dreamscape. The artist has sought to create a picture that celebrates the growing and harvesting of grapes, showing workers in the vineyard. Peter Doig wished to establish a connection with artists like Millet, van Gogh and Bacon who had depicted vineyard or farm workers. The work also had a personal inspiration in his Trinidadian friend, an artist known as Embah (Emheyo Bhabba) who brought a cuatro – a four string guitar – to one of Doig’s exhibitions in Paris and shared his music and poetry during the course of the evening.
“The painting shows something of what goes on behind the scenes in the production of wine, what happens offstage, as it were. It’s a sort of ode to workers, to all those involved at the various stages of making a wine before it’s finally bottled. It’s a dream with a romantic streak, as if someone spontaneously decided to sing in the vines. It’s a moment of poetry, where you can take your time. It’s neither really day nor really night, but rather something in between, between waking and sleeping. It is possible to see it as a progression, a dream journey in the world of the harvest.”
Born in Edinburgh in 1959, Peter Doig grew up in Trinidad and Canada before moving to London to study at St Martin’s School of Art and Chelsea School of Art. Since 2002, he has lived between London and Trinidad.
Peter Doig has been the subject of several major museum exhibitions worldwide including surveys at Tate Britain in 2008, the National Gallery of Scotland in 2013, Fondation Beyeler 2015 and the Museum of Modern Art Tokyo in 2020. Peter Doig taught for a number of years, notably at the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf, where he held a professorship from 2004 to 2017. Doig also served as a Trustee of the Tate Gallery from 1995 to 2000.
Peter Doig draws on various photographic sources for the composition of his paintings. Relying on materials -playing with textures and with pure and mixed shades, using solarisation and halo effects and shifts in focus – his works resist unambiguous interpretation. The landscapes are flooded in darkness or halos of light and mist, fluttering snowflakes or twinkling stars, labyrinths of branches, reflections in water.
Peter Doig paints atmospheres and contexts that convey man’s bewilderment and confusion before idyllic nature. Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild, co-owner of Château Mouton Rothschild with responsibility for the estate’s artistic and cultural activity and relations with the artist who creates the original artwork for the label of each new vintage, explains:
“We wanted an artist who uses canvas and pictorial material to express figurative subjects. Unrivalled as a colourist, Peter Doig focuses entirely on painting and has become one of his generation’s foremost exponents of the discipline, holding exhibitions all over the world. There is something very special about his technique and his universe that sets them apart in contemporary figurative art. His subjects are very varied, his painting resists any classification: he has succeeded in creating his own, inimitable world.”
It was Baron Philippe de Rothschild’s ambition to make Château Mouton Rothschild a place of art and beauty. Since 1945, the label for each vintage of Château Mouton Rothschild has been illustrated by an original artwork. Year after year, they enhance a unique collection of contemporary art by very different artists from a wide variety of backgrounds, including Dalí, César, Miró, Chagall, Picasso, Warhol,
Soulages, Bacon, Balthus, Tàpies, Jeff Koons, David Hockney, Annette Messager and Olafur Eliasson.
All the artworks can be seen in the Paintings for the Labels exhibition, created by Baroness Philippine de Rothschild in 1981 and on permanent display at Château Mouton Rothschild since 2013.
About CHÂTEAU MOUTON ROTHSCHILD
A Bordeaux First Growth, Château Mouton Rothschild spans 84 hectares (207 acres) of vines at Pauillac in the Médoc, planted with the classic varieties of the region: Cabernet Sauvignon (80%), Merlot (16%), Cabernet Franc (3%) and Petit Verdot (1%).
The estate benefits from exceptionally favourable natural conditions, in the quality of the soil, the position of its vines and their exposure to the sun. From grape to bottle, combining respect for tradition with the latest technology, the wine receives meticulous attention from highly skilled winemakers and vinegrowers responsible for each parcel of the estate. The grapes are harvested by hand in small open crates, sorted on vibrating tables and vinified in oak vats with some transparent staves, after which the wine is matured for 18 months in new French oak casks.
Château Mouton Rothschild now belongs to Baroness Philippine de Rothschild’s three children: Camille Sereys de Rothschild, Philippe Sereys de Rothschild and Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild. True to their grandfather’s and mother’s work, all three are committed, with the same enthusiasm and determination, to perpetuating Baron Philippe’s dictum: “Living for the vine”. Almost a command, it means being there for the vineyard in good times and in hardship, working it with dedication, skill and craft, and honouring it with art.
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