It was in 1853 that the long association with great wine began. In 1853 Nathaniel de Rothschild (1812-1870) purchased Château Brane Mouton in the Medoc district of Bordeaux and renamed it Château Mouton Rothschild.
Not to be outdone by his son-in-law, in 1868, Baron James de Rothschild (1792-1868) secured the neighbouring Château Lafite, one of the four great premier cru estates of France. It was the ultimate statement of Frenchness for James, born 76 years before in the Frankfurt ghetto. Having achieved it, he died within weeks. After the Second World War, Baron Elie de Rothschild (1917-2007) led a programme to restore the vineyard. Today, Château Lafite is under the direction of Baron Eric de Rothschild.
A friendly rivalry has always been in the air between these two estates. In the 1920s Philippe de Rothschild (1902-1988), great-grandson of Nathaniel, took on the management of Mouton and brought a new vigour to it with an imaginative style of innovation, introducing the tradition of wine labels painted by great artists. In 1973, it joined Lafite as a premier cru, two of the world’s finest wines side by side on the slopes of Pauillac. From 1988 until her death in 2014, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild (1933-2014) presided over Château Mouton.
While the Rothschild estates in Bordeaux continue to flourish and develop, they have at the same time turned to the opportunities offered by the newer wine-growing regions of the world. Between them, they have developed ventures in other parts of France, in Portugal, California, and South America, often in partnership with long-established and widely respected vignerons.
Today, the premiers crus stand as enduring peaks of perfection while new worlds offer new styles and new chapters in the story of Rothschild and wine.