1945 was the first of the artist’s label series (except for the one-off in 1924), commissioned by Baron Philippe de Rothschild and created by Philippe Jullian, featuring the distinctive “V” on the label to represent the World War II victory of the allies. This was a very small vintage, largely due to a devastating spring frost, which clearly did not affect quality, but meant yields were down by around 50% this year. This, combined with the fact that the vineyard was not quite the size it is today, meant that this would have been made almost exclusively from fruit from the plateau. It also meant only around 6,500 cases were made. Interestingly, Philippe Dhalluin shared with me that he recently learned this wine was made using a curious “sandwich” vinification method, whereby it was fermented using varying layers of stems and skins. Therefore, in this vintage there is an aromatic and textural component coming from the stems, which, of course, is absent in modern Mouton. However, this recently gleaned knowledge has inspired some vinification experiments with stems, Dhalluin told me with a gleam in his eyes.
Medium to deep brick in color, the nose of the 1945 Mouton Rothschild is ATOMIC. It explodes from the glass with the most vibrant, spritely black cherry compote, kirsch and raspberry pie notes you can possibly imagine. This is backed up with beautifully fragrant rose oil, dried lavender, fallen leaves and wild mushroom scents, followed by waves of eucalyptus, cigar box, woodsmoke, incense and dark chocolate coming through as it transforms in the glass over the course of 30-45 minutes. The full-bodied palate is rich, decadent and very densely layered, strutting exquisitely ripe, fine-grained, silt-like tannins. The overall character is paradoxical: at once profoundly mature and yet so jaw-droppingly youthful. If this finish does not bring a tear to your eyes, nothing will. WA 100 pts