Log In / Join Now

Bordeaux Legend Baroness Philippine de Rothschild Dies at 80

Former actress led Château Mouton-Rothschild and successful wine company through historic times

James Molesworth
Posted: August 23, 2014

Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, owner of Bordeaux first-growth Château Mouton-Rothschild and a monumental figure in the wine industry, passed away Friday, Aug. 22, following complications from surgery. She was 80.

Baroness Philippine took over the running of her family estates, which also include the Châteaus Clerc-Milon and d'Armailhac, as well as the global success Mouton Cadet, following her father's death in 1988. As chairwoman of Baron Philippe de Rothschild S.A., she steered both Mouton and the other properties to new qualitative heights and was one of Bordeaux's most prominent figures. She also played a leading role at Opus One, the Napa Valley winery her father had started with vintner Robert Mondavi and his family.

"Philippine was a bright and enduring star," said Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Wine Spectator. "The whole world of wine will miss her."

Philippine Mathilde Camille de Rothschild was born on Nov. 22, 1933, in Paris. As a young woman, she built a successful acting career under the stage name of Philippine Pascal. Her first marriage was to actor and director Jacques Sereys; the couple had two children. Her second marriage was to Jean-Pierre de Beaumarchais, with whom she had a son.

Philippine's acting background proved beneficial when she entered her family's wine business in the early 1980s, as she used a commanding presence and penchant for flair in carrying on her father's legacy after he passed away in 1988.

While continuing Mouton's famed tradition of picking a different artist to design the label with each new vintage she also brought in new changes. She introduced a second wine to Mouton's production, Le Petit Mouton, in the early 1990s. She launched a new partnership in Chile, Viña Almaviva, with Chilean winery Concha y Toro. In 1998, she purchased a 250-acre estate in Limoux, in France's Languedoc region, and renamed it Domaine de Baron'arques.

In 2003, she hired Philippe Dhalluin as general director of Mouton and the two helped spur the estate to new qualitative heights, making subtle shifts in the winemaking to emphasize more purity rather than brute power in the wine. She also oversaw the construction of a new chai at Mouton, which was completed in time for the 2013 harvest.

She is survived by her husband and three children: Camille, Philippe and Julien. Both her sons hold positions at the company. "The whole family was with her at the end, which made everything better," Philippe told Wine Spectator.

Malcolm Rose
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada —  August 23, 2014 6:03pm ET
Condolences to the family. Another legendary icon gone.
Tyler Wesslund
Tampa, Florida —  August 23, 2014 6:16pm ET
I had the privledge to taste w/ her one time & the pleasure of selling all her wonderful wines. The wine world has lost a wonderful presence, but her enduring legacy will please the wine world for generations to come.
David Boyer
Austin. TX —  August 23, 2014 8:29pm ET
The Baroness, along with her father, moved mountains in the world of fine wine, relentlessly pursing and living up to the 1st Growth status it has always deserved. Her château is a magical place to visit and her energy will be felt there for many years to come.

My best wishes to her family and loved ones - this classy, one-of-a-kind Grand Madam will be mourned.

With deep condolences,

David Boyer
classof1855.com
David Gummer
Edmonton,Alberta,Canada —  August 24, 2014 12:32am ET
A very sad occurrence in the world of wine. I will certainly miss her as she and her father Philippe was a great inspiration to my beginning career as a professional sommelier. Tous mes condolences!
William Bincoletto
Harrisons Fine Wines
Scotland —  August 24, 2014 2:32am ET
A huge loss to the wine world and we can only echo the other sentiments and add our thanks for all the support given to the wine trade. Sincere condolences to the family.
Simon Harrison
winestore.co.uk
Joao Jabur
Irvine, California, USA —  August 24, 2014 7:12am ET
Our condolences to the family. This is a huge loss for all wine lovers. As soon as we had this news yesterday, me and my wife decided to open for dinner, a bottle of 1983 Mouton Rothschild that we had, in her memory.
We hope that someone from the family take this business, with the same dynamics of her management, and continue to make one of the best wines in the world.
Joao and Silvia Jabur
Bc Pitcher
Rochester, MN, USA —  August 24, 2014 8:21am ET
She was truly a brilliant, colorful jewel in the World of Wine and will be greatly missed. Sincere condolences to her family and friends the world over.
Paul Lopez
Paso Robles, CA —  August 24, 2014 8:47am ET
Sad to hear of her passing. Only visited Mouton once and was so impressed with the dedication to the Rothschild name and the wines produced, wow. Condolences to the family and the family of people who work at the Estate.
I would love to have that issue in the picture above, anyone know when it is from? Recent?
Thank you.
James Molesworth
New York —  August 24, 2014 9:53am ET
Paul: That was our March, 2014 issue...
Sherry Gao
Calgay  —  August 25, 2014 5:04pm ET
I am so sad to hear this....she will be missed in the wine world!
Paul Lopez
Paso Robles, CA —  August 27, 2014 12:22am ET
Thank you James, it's a keeper.
Tomas Marimon
Miami, Fl —  August 29, 2014 1:08am ET
First, I cannot be. Second, I do not deign to be. Mouton I am.
First, I am. Second, I used to be. But Mouton does not change.

Rest in peace. Mouton continues...
Rebecca Lusk
New Windsor, MD, USA —  August 31, 2014 8:39pm ET
She and I share a birthday. I once was honored to share and enjoy a bottle from Opus One. I called my first taste - nectar of the Gods.

Would you like to comment? Want to join or start a discussion?

Become a WineSpectator.com member and you can!
To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. Member benefits include access to more than 315,000 reviews in our Wine Ratings Search; a first look at ratings in our Insider, Advance and Tasting Highlights; Value Wines; the Personal Wine List/My Cellar tool, hundreds of wine-friendly recipes and more.

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.