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The 2016 Mouton Rothschild is a blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, with the Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot vinified together. It has a very deep purple-black color and slowly slides out of the glass with spicy notes of Sichuan pepper, cloves and cinnamon stick giving way to a core of perfumed black fruits and florals—blackcurrant cordial, candied violets, blackberry compote, rose hips and black plums—plus suggestions of espresso, damp soil, tar and beef drippings. Medium-bodied, the palate is very firmly structured and jam-packed with latent energy about to burst, offering superbly ripe, grainy tannins and bold freshness to support the intense floral and black fruit layers and finishing very long and very minerally. Powerful, profound wine.
Mouton’s congenial managing director, Philippe Dhalluin, was unfortunately in Napa while I was in Bordeaux in October, so I was hosted by Eric Tourbier—Mouton’s technical director—and Clerc-Milon’s winemaker, Jean-Emmanuel Danjoy. While discussing the particularly abundant range of aroma/flavor compounds I was perceiving in the 2016 reds, Danjoy commented, “When you have a wet spring, you tend to have more aromatic precursors. Also, it was a long maturation period. The vine made a lot of aromatic components. The gap between the Merlot and the Cabernet Sauvignon for ripening was very long. In fact, Cabernet was very late this year. We didn’t know if the Cabernet Sauvignon was going to make it! The big surprise for us was the Cabernet Franc—all of it was delicious. We used it all in the grand vin at Clerc Milon.” When we came to taste Le Petit Mouton and Mouton Rothschild, Eric Tourbier, smiling like the cat that got the cream, said simply, “It was a dry summer. We had very small berries and a good level of ripeness.” He then added, matter-of-factly, “I’ve been at Mouton for 30 years. I think this is my best vintage. The 2016 may be compared to the 1986?” Maybe, but while I’m a huge lover of the incredibly provocative and sometimes formidable 1986 (I had it again just a few weeks ago), I’m thinking this 2016 is going to give a lot more hedonic pleasure in its first 25 years in bottle than the 1986—just coming around now—certainly did. ~100WA
The 2016 Mouton Rothschild bowled me over when I tasted it from barrel. Philippe Dhalluin compares it to the 1986 in terms of intensity of fruit, although there is more maturity and refinement in the tannins apropos of the 2016. Bottled in July 2018, this has an intense bouquet with pixelated black fruit, crushed stone, hints of blue fruit and a touch of India ink. But it is the delineation and focus that take your breath away. The palate is medium-bodied with very supple tannin framing the pure black currant and cassis fruit. The acidity is pitch-perfect, and there is a gentle but insistent grip toward the extraordinarily long finish. Racking my brains to think of another Mouton Rothschild that I have tasted over the last 20 years that was as good as this, I simply cannot come up with one. ~100VM, Neal Martin
Dark ruby, purple color. Aromas of blackcurrants, black truffle, crushed stone, licorice and hints of tar. Full-bodied, deep and vertical on the palate, drawing you in and down. The structure is very tannic and powerful, yet the tannins are folded into the wine. One of the most powerful Moutons ever for me. Try after 2027. ~100JS
Along with the Château Lafite, the 2016 Château Mouton Rothschild is the wine of the vintage from the Médoc and is a truly profound, magical, blockbuster wine in every sense. It’s based on 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, raised in new French oak. Boasting a saturated purple color as well as an extraordinary bouquet of thick black fruits, lead pencil shavings, new saddle leather, and burning embers, with just a hint of its oak upbringing, this beauty hits the palate with a mammoth amount of fruit and texture yet stays fresh, pure, and light on its feet, with a thrilling sense of minerality as well as building tannins on the finish. It’s one of the most profound young wines I’ve ever tasted, and while it will probably keep for three-quarters of a decade, it offers pleasure even today. Bravo! ~100 Jeb Dunnuck
The rich fruit in this wine nearly envelops the tannins. Flavors of black plums, blackberries and blueberries meld with intense acidity to mask the power and concentration of the polished tannins. With this structure, will age for many, many years. Do not drink before 2026. ~98WE
A generous, pure and lush ball of Cabernet, with wave after wave of unadulterated cassis and blackberry puree flavors rolling through. Features notes of roasted apple wood and sweet tobacco, offset by a long tug of sweet earth, but that's all background music to the impressive core of fruit, which steams along like a cruise ship with enough stores in reserve to go around the world twice without stopping. Best from 2025 through 2045. ~98WS