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We are pleased to offer for sale a bottle of one of the greatest wines ever made.

Château Mouton Rothschild 1945

From the cellar of Faringdon House

Faringdon House is a Grade I-listed 14,510 square feet house in Faringdon, Oxfordshire.

It was built about 1770–85 for Sir Henry James Pye, who was the first Poet Laureate to receive a fixed salary of £27 instead of the historic tierce of Canary wine.

Faringdon House was the country home of Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt-Wilson, 14th Baron Berners, who inherited it in 1918. Fictionalised as Lord Merlin in Nancy Mitford’s novel The Pursuit of Love, Berners was notorious for his eccentricity, dyeing pigeons in vibrant colours and entertaining Penelope Betjeman's horse Moti to tea. Other visitors to Faringdon included Gertrude Stein, Igor Stravinsky, Salvador Dalí, and H. G. Wells.

Lord Berners moved in to Faringdon House in 1931 with his companion Robert Heber-Percy, known as the “Mad Boy” for his uninhibited behaviour, which included horse riding naked through the surrounding woods.

In 1942, Heber-Percy married Jennifer Ross and they had a daughter, Victoria. All four of them lived together in Faringdon House and were photographed by Cecil Beaton in September 1943.

Lord Berners died in 1950 and Robert Heber-Percy inherited the house. Victoria Heber-Percy married the engineer and inventor Peter Zinovieff and they had three children. Their eldest child is the writer Sofka Zinovieff, who inherited the entirety of her grandfather’s estate, including Faringdon House, in 1987.

The bottle's provenance

Faringdon House was sold in December 2017 and its contents auctioned in April 2018.

It is believed that the bottle was probably bought by Lord Berners before 1950 or by Robert Heber-Percy after 1951.  

The damp-stained label shows evidence of the bottle being stored in a cool, damp country house cellar for over half a century. The top shoulder ullage is exceptional for its age.

Château Mouton Rothschild 1945 – a great wine

Château Mouton Rothschild 1945 is so exceptional that Michael Broadbent MW, former head of Christie’s wine department, gave the wine six stars (in a five-star rating system) in his Vintage Wines book, writing that “There is simply no other wine like it.” In June 2001, he reckoned that Mouton 1945 was “Seemingly tireless – indeed another half century anticipated.”

The US wine critic Robert Parker wrote of Mouton 1945: “A consistent 100-point wine (only because my point scale stops at that number), the 1945 Mouton-Rothschild is truly one of the immortal wines of the century. This wine is easily identifiable because of its remarkably exotic, over-ripe, sweet nose of black fruits, coffee, tobacco, mocha, and Asian spices. An extraordinarily dense, opulent, and rich wine, with layers of creamy fruit, it behaves more like a 1947 Pomerol than a structured, powerful, and tannic 1945. The wine finishes with a 60+ second display of ripe fruit, extract, and sweet tannin. This remarkably youthful wine (only light amber at the edge) is mindboggling! Will it last another 50 years?” 

After tasting Château Mouton Rothschild 1945, the Financial Times’ s wine correspondent Jancis Robinson wrote, “Great sheen and lightening now but great shaded ruby. Chocolate and rich rum toffees on the nose – halfway to a Vin Doux Naturel – almost rancio! Cleans up in the glass. Really sweet and intense and you can really see the relation with 1961 – a great hot concentrated vintage. With amazing depth. Made at the end of the war with Philippe in his prime. Very clean but amazingly rich and intense. Life and zest and lilies and treacle but great energy. So long and rich and peacock's tail. So different from the elegance of the 1953 Lafite and much richer than the Latour 1961. 20/20 points.”

1945 and all that

Coming at the end of the war, the “victory vintage” in 1945 was a wonderful symbol of peace.

In Vintage Wines, Michael Broadbent MW describes it as “arguably one of the greatest vintages of the 20th century [producing] long-lasting wines of the highest quality”.

Throughout France ungrafted, mature vines – none had been replaced during the war – gave the highest quality grapes. In Bordeaux, Mouton Rothschild, despite having an ill-equipped winery and being “only” a Second Growth, was particularly brilliant and is now acclaimed as one of the greatest wines of all time.

Broadbent described Mouton 1945 as “a Churchill of a wine”, and not just in reference to the wine itself, either.

An Art Deco label was commissioned from the poster artist Carlu for the 1924 Mouton vintage. To commemorate the end of the war, 1945 was the second vintage of Mouton to feature a bespoke label, based on Churchill’s “V for Victory”, by a young French artist called Philippe Jullian. Every vintage since, Mouton has enlisted an artist to design a new label. Although the artists are never paid for their work, they do receive ten cases of wine – five of that year’s vintage, plus five of their own vintage year.

In June 1993, the château’s then owner Baronne Philippine de Rothschild served the ’45 to more than 200 guests at a dinner. The idea was to pour magnums, of which only 1,475 were made. However, when a magnum was opened for inspection, the maître de chai decided that the wine was not yet ready and bottles were served instead. This is truly a wine built to last.

Price

£10,000 + VAT

Images

Images of the bottle are available upon request.

Enquiries

For all enquiries please contact us.

Lord Berners, Penelope Betjeman, and
Faringdon House
Philippe Jullian's
Philippe Jullian's original drawings for the label of 1945 Mouton Rothschild