- Brand's creation dates back to Baron Philippe in 1930
- Robert Trent Jones designed label for Hazeltine tournament
Mouton Cadet is marking its 86th year in business by making limited-edition wines for the Cannes Film Festival and golf’s Ryder Cup, leveraging its association with the events to build its position as a leading producer of Bordeaux appellation controlee-branded wines sold in 150 countries.
The Cannes wines will be on offer at a dedicated rooftop bar at the Palais des Festivals from May 11, while the Ryder Cup special cuvee is being sold in New York and at the venue of the September event at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota, according to statements from Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA, which owns the brand.
Mouton Cadet was created by Baron Philippe himself, who took control of the family’s estate Chateau Mouton Rothschild in 1922 and over the following 66 years elevated its status while making technical and marketing innovations that shaped the region’s wine industry. Mouton Cadet was launched in 1930 as a brand designed to bring Bordeaux wines to a broader audience than those who could afford prestigious labels, and is now made in partnership with more than 450 winegrowers farming about 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres).
“For me the word is consistency,” said Hugues Lechanoine, managing director for brands at BPDR, in an interview in Bordeaux last month. Citing continuing evolution of the company’s wines and brands, he said he’s “optimistic” about the outlook for the wine market and “Bordeaux is reinvesting.”
Mouton Cadet comes in a dozen varieties spanning red, white, rose and sweet dessert wines, and including a reserve collection and vintage label. Bottles from recent years retail in London for about 15 pounds ($22), while older vintages or reserve wines fetch double or triple that amount, still a fraction of the price of Bordeaux classed growths.
Mouton Cadet has been associated with the Cannes Film Festival since 1992, making this year the 25th anniversary of its partnership. It has commissioned Paris designer Mathias Kiss to revamp its rooftop space combining Palm Springs modern architecture with French Art Deco, according to a BPDR statement. The white, red and rose bottles have a roll of film scrolling across them, each frame showing the company’s signature sheep’s head.
In September the marketing effort switches to the Ryder Cup, the transatlantic team golf competition held every two years and which in 2016 is being hosted by the U.S. For that, Mouton Cadet turned to golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr., who drew a sketch of a golf caddie designed as a tribute to his father and Baron Philippe. Lechanoine was cited in BPDR’s statement as describing golf and wine as “two like-minded pursuits.”
The Ryder Cup dates back to 1927, when Baron Philippe was just embarking on his transformation of the Mouton Rothschild estate. The brand’s association with the Ryder Cup started at Gleneagles, Scotland in 2014 and it has signed on as partner for the 2016 and 2018 tournaments, as well as being official supplier to golf’s European Tour.
Mouton Cadet is produced in a fully automated winery comprising 200 stainless-steel tanks with a total capacity of 17 million liters (4.5 million gallons), according to the BPDR website. Three bottling lines produce 20 million bottles a year, of which 12 million are under the Mouton Cadet label. Other wines produced include the “Barons Baronnes” labels dedicated to five family members, the Agneau and Mise de la Baronnie brands sold primarily online and a more accessible range of red, white and rose labeled simply “Bordeaux.”
Mouton Cadet is now part of the wider BPDR wine company, which encompasses separate estates and brands divisions. Mouton Cadet is the cornerstone of the brands, which also encompass Escudo Rojo from Chile and Cadet d’Oc from southern France.
Separately, the estates division, under the management of Philippe Dhalluin, is built around Chateau Mouton Rothschild, originally designated a second growth in the 1855 Bordeaux classification and promoted to first-growth status in 1973 following lobbying by Baron Philippe. Other estates include Chateau Clerc Milon and Chateau d’Armailhac, both close neighbors of Mouton Rothschild in Pauillac, as well as Domaine de Baronarques in Languedoc and partnerships involving Opus One in California and Vina Almaviva in Chile.
Overall BPDR has 600 hectares of vines planted in France and abroad, with 80 percent of its wines exported, according to its website. It has 60 employees and produces 23 million bottles of wine annually.
Lechanoine, interviewed at Clerc Milon during trade tastings of the Bordeaux 2015 vintage last month, said BPDR, and wine estates more generally, are looking to the future.
“In our company, but also in Pauillac, in Bordeaux, after some very promising vintages, many estates have reinvested in their facilities,” he said. “It’s remarkable.”