Written by Aksel Ritenis


Each year since 1945, a famous artist has created an original artwork for the label of Château Mouton Rothschild, with complete freedom as to the design.


The owners of Château Mouton Rothschild, Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, Camille Sereys de Rothschild and Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild, commissioned the label for the 2018 vintage from the Chinese artist and writer Xu Bing (b. 1955).

The artwork for the 2018 label reflects the artist’s work on the illusory splendour of appearances as manifested by his Square Word Calligraphy, which resembles traditional Chinese characters but is actually composed of the letters of the Latin alphabet. Xu Bing expresses his linguistic creativity in the invention of a unique script in which the words are absorbed into the codes of traditional Chinese ideography.

In this coalescence of cultures, the label for the 2018 vintage features the two words “Mouton Rothschild”. The characters in the artwork are designed by Xu Bing to reveal themselves to the attentive reader one after the other, in the same way that the aromas and flavours of a very fine wine, with patience, are also gradually discovered.



How to read “Mouton Rothschild” © Xu Bing Studio

The 2018 vintage, of exceptional quality, is already set to be one of Château Mouton Rothschild’s finest successes. The wine reveals an intense colour, an excellent tannic structure, remarkable heft and a creamy texture, as well as a rare concentration of aromas and flavours.

The label for such an exceptional vintage required an artist equal to the challenge, whose style would be as unique and distinctive as that of Château Mouton Rothschild and whose artworks would stand the test of time in the same way as a fine wine.

“When I discovered Xu Bing, I was captivated by him as an inventor of signs endowed with incredible poetic power. And then I said to myself that our labels were also signs, each work of art referring to a year: the 1973 vintage can also be called the ‘Picasso Mouton’, just as the 2018 vintage will be called the ‘Xu Bing Mouton’,” said Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild.


Considered to be one of the most important contemporary Chinese artists, Xu Bing majored in print-making at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and started practising calligraphy from an early age. His works have been exhibited at the British Museum, London, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, D.C., and the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, amongst other renowned institutions. Some of his most celebrated works include monumental sculptures and installations such as Book from the Sky, Phoenix and Background Stories.

© Xu Bing Studio

“I have long been aware of the close connection between Château Mouton Rothschild and art. In 2013, I had the good fortune to be invited to Mouton Rothschild by Baroness Philippine de Rothschild. I was impressed by her energy, her warm personality and her knowledge of the arts. She said that one day I should create a label for Mouton Rothschild. So when Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild contacted me to illustrate the label for the vintage 2018, I took it as both an honour and an opportunity to pay tribute,” said Xu Bing.

Instagram: @MoutonNeChange Pauillac, 1 December 2020.

About the author

Aksel Ritenis

Axel is the Editor and Publisher of Connoisseur Magazine "for the Finer Things in Life" and has been the custodian of the magazine for over 10 years and leader of a team of freelance Journalists and Community Members who continue to make it all happen!-Join the Team at Connoisseur Magazine!

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