Mouton Cadet Owner Seeks Opportunities Beyond U.S., Chile

Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA, whose wines range from Chateau Mouton Rothschild to Opus One in California, will continue to seek opportunities such as partnerships rather than just raising output after expanding beyond Bordeaux.

The company runs Chateau Clerc Milon and Chateau d’Armailhac in Bordeaux, as well as Almaviva in Chile, and built the Mouton Cadet brand that supplies wine for golf’s Ryder Cup.

The development of partnerships to enhance the brand was driven primarily by personal relationships, Managing Director Hugues Lechanoine said in an interview in London. “We are much more looking for organic value growth than going for volume for the sake of volume.”

Baron Philippe de Rothschild took the helm at Mouton in 1922 and ran the business for more than 60 years, winning its promotion to first-growth status in 1973. He created the Opus One winery in California in partnership with Robert Mondavi in 1979. It produces a Bordeaux-style wine based on cabernet sauvignon blended with cabernet franc, merlot, petit verdot and malbec, and aged in French oak barrels.

Chile Venture

The Almaviva venture in Chile was set up in 1997 by Baron Philippe’s daughter Philippine, who ran Mouton for more than a quarter-century and who died in August, and Eduardo Guilisasti Tagle, chairman of Vina Concha y Toro SA.

“We brought our Bordeaux traditional technical know-how and they brought the terroir,” Lechanoine said, in a reference to the soil and climate. Asked if the Chilean venture could be a model for expansion elsewhere, he said “we are listening, we are watching what’s going on, but we still need to carry on focusing on existing” operations.

One of those is Mouton Cadet, a brand that started life when Baron Philippe decided the 1930 vintage from Chateau Mouton Rothschild should be sold under another name.

Over the past eight decades, Mouton Cadet has expanded as it started to buy in grapes, first from neighboring vineyards and then other Bordeaux appellations. It has developed into an international label sold in 150 countries.

Mouton Cadet now sells 12 million bottles a year worldwide, almost half of the 25 million sold by Baron Philippe de Rothschild. Mouton Cadet will maintain its link to the Ryder Cup when the tournament moves to France in 2018.