In 1853, shortly before the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, the Pauillac estate known as Chateau Brane Mouton was bought by Nathaniel de Rothschild. The estate at this time had fallen into disrepair, but its quality was recognised by the wine judges at the 1855 International Exhibition who gave Mouton Second Growth status. Subsequently, large swathes of vineyard were replanted and a new Chateau was built, rejuvenating the estate.
The next chapter begins in 1922 with the arrival of Baron Philippe Rothschild, great grandson of Nathaniel, who at twenty years old was a passionate winemaker and sought to innovate the practices at the estate. It was common practice in Bordeaux to sell wines in bulk barrels to wine merchants and traders, leaving them the responsibility of bottling, maturing and distribution. Bottling at the estate allowed the Baron to personally see to the handling of every drop of his precious wine. Additionally, creating a 'second wine' called Mouton-Cadet, left only the very best grapes for the Grand Vin, and quality soared!
By the mid-1900s, Chateau Mouton Rothschild was considered to be one of the world's greatest wines, yet did not hold the coveted Bordeaux Premier Cru status. In 1973 when, after hard work in the vineyard, the winery, and a tiny bit of handshaking, Baron Philippe would have Chateau Mouton Rothschild elevated to Premier Cru Classe. This is the only instance of a Bordeaux wine estate changing its classification.