Philippine de Rothschild, 80, one of the icons of the wine world, died on August 23 in Bordeaux. She was the flamboyant owner of first-growth Château Mouton Rothschild as well as Clerc Milon and d’armailhac, and was part-owner of Napa Valley’s Opus One and Chile’s Almaviva. Her family wine merchant business, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, produces one of the world’s most popular wines—mouton Cadet.
The former actress was a larger-than-life character in the wine world. Her stage presence was felt by everyone—whether attending a meeting at her “dear Mouton” (as she called it), or visiting a friend or customer in some faraway place. She personally selected the artist who would design the label of Mouton Rothschild each year. I remember running into her one summer in Barcelona and she was upset that I figured out whom she had chosen for the 1995 label. I never told anyone; neither did she.
Whenever I tasted Mouton, whether from the bottle or the barrel, Philippine nearly always phoned me beforehand or handwrote me a message to say she hoped I enjoyed her Mouton. Of course, I always did. But it was that personal touch and warmth that made Philippine such a special person in the wine world. She made everything she did so very personal. It’s why we are all going to miss her.