Mouton Cadet is the brand name of a popular range of modestly priced, generic Bordeaux wines, considered Bordeaux's most successful brand. Created by Baron Philippe de Rothschild of the Rothschild banking dynasty, the wine named after his premier cru vineyard Château Mouton Rothschild, Mouton Cadet wine is produced through the assembly of a variety of grapes, from several Bordeaux region appellations. Originally only a red "Claret" wine from its origins in the 1930s, a white wine was added to the label in the 1970s, followed in the 1990s by a range of réserve wines, and in 2007 by a rosé wine.
Following a poor vintage in 1927, Baron Philippe de Rothschild created the second wine label Carruades de Mouton, though this was not viewed as a success. After the acclaimed vintages of 1928 and 1929, the vintage of 1930 and the following two harvests were dire, and the wine that de Rothschild felt was not worthy of the Mouton-Rothschild name was this time named Mouton Cadet. "Cadet" refers to de Rothschild place as cadet, the youngest son of the family.
Despite its lack of traditional prestige, the wine proved successful, and in order to repeat the success the following year, de Rothschild had to turn to neighbouring vineyards for sourced fruit. Initially labeled with the appellation of Pauillac, the increasing demand caused the sourcing of grapes to expand to nearby appellations Saint-Estèphe and Haut-Médoc. Over the following years, the wine came to include grapes from an even greater area, until production stopped with World War II. The wine was reborn after the war, and gained a Bordeaux AOC classification in 1947, steadily increasing in popularity due to a reputation of consistent quality. In later years the wine relies heavily on grapes sourced from the Entre-Deux-Mers district.
Mouton Cadet was marketed significantly throughout the 1950s and '60s, placing the brand in the United Kingdom and United States. In the 1970s, a white wine was added to the label, expanding the brand's concept, which resulted in 1975 sales of more than three million bottles worldwide.
Philippe de Rothschild died in 1988 and control of the business passed on to his daughter Philippine de Rothschild.
The label Réserve Mouton Cadet Médoc was created in 1996, offering a red wine with greater ageing potential and suitability for the restaurant trade. In 1999 the Réserve line also included the white Réserve Mouton Cadet Graves.
One of the best selling wines in the world in 2002, Mouton Cadet sold 15 million bottles worldwide.
In 2004, its U.S. sales were hit by changing tastes and anti-French sentiment, and consequently it sold only 2.9 million bottles in the U.S. in all of 2004, down from a high of 6.5 million bottles in 1992.
A reblending of the wine and redesign of the brand was undertaken in 2004. In September 2005 Mouton Cadet began a distribution agreement with the North Lake Wines subsidiary of U.S-based Constellation Brands, the world's largest wine distributor.
In 2007, Mouton Cadet made further additions to the franchise, including a rosé in the generic series, and included a further three wines to the Réserve range: Réserve Mouton Cadet Saint-Émilion, Réserve Mouton Cadet Sauternes, and a red Réserve Mouton Cadet Graves.
- Mouton Cadet Red: 65% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Cabernet Franc, matured 6–10 months
- Mouton Cadet White: 65% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Semillon, and 5% Muscadelle, matured 4 months
- Le Rosé de Mouton Cadet: 65% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, matured 4 months
Réserve Mouton Cadet:
- Réserve Mouton Cadet Médoc: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc, matured 12 months
- Réserve Mouton Cadet Saint-Émilion: 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc, matured 12 months
- Réserve Mouton Cadet Graves Rouge: 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 15% Cabernet Franc, matured 12 months
- Réserve Mouton Cadet Graves Blanc: 50% Semillon, 45% Sauvignon Blanc, and 5% Muscadelle, matured 4 months
- Réserve Mouton Cadet Sauternes: 80% Semillon, 15% Sauvignon Blanc, and 5% Muscadelle, matured 20 months
- Prial, Frank J., The New York Times (February 14, 1996). "Wine Talk: Mouton".
- winepros.com.au. The Oxford Companion to Wine. "Mouton Cadet".
- Peppercorn, David (2003). Bordeaux. London: Mitchell Beazley. pp. 640–641. ISBN 1-84000-927-6.
- winepros.com.au. The Oxford Companion to Wine. "Bordeaux AC".
- Baron Philippe de Rothschild S.A. "Wines".
- Kiley, David, BusinessWeek (April 24, 2006). "Winning Back Joe Corkscrew".
- northlakewines.com "North Lake Wines and Baron Philippe de Rothschild S.A. Announce Exclusive Import Agreement