The Rothschild Family’s spectacular wealth and political influence have made the name instantly recognizable. A constant source of fascination and intrigue, the family created the first international banking system, developed bond markets, financed trade and even famously bailed out the Bank of England. For wine collectors, the Rothschild estates have become uncontournable (absolutely essential)!
The family origins from abject poverty have only fed the myth and conjecture. The earliest Rothschilds can be traced back to the 1500s in Frankfurt’s Jewish ghetto, called Judengasse. Described by German author Goethe as a “hellish slum,” the ghetto was in all respects a prison for the 3,000-plus Jews living in the region. Anti-Semitic sentiment was so perverse, Jews weren’t allowed to have surnames. “To invent some sort of identification, Jews often used the house signs which predated numbered addresses. A house with a red shield (Roten Schild) thus became the surname for the family. (Frederic Morton, The Rothschilds)
The Rothschild fortunes changed dramatically in the mid-1700s, when Mayer Amschel Rothschild began to manage the family businesses, which included importing textiles, antiques and rare coins. Eventually he began to engage in lending and usury. “As the Jews were ostracized from most professions by local rulers at that time, they were pushed into marginal occupations considered immoral or socially inferior, such as tax and rent collecting and moneylending.” ( Zaki Cooper, Financial Times) Smart and hard-working, Mayer Amschel was exceptionally good at lending and soon established a proper bank. He won the patronage of Wilhelm IX of Hesse along with other aristocratic clientele.
A FAMILY DYNASTY
By the late 1700s, Mayer Amschel’s businesses were flourishing. Ten children — five sons and five daughters — filled his cramped ghetto house. His sons joined the family enterprise and proved to be just as entrepreneurial and driven as their father. Eventually, when Mayer Amschel sent his son Nathan to set up trade operations in England, the young man took with him $1.5 million in today’s currency.
At the time of Mayer Amschel’s death in 1812, his sons were presiding over five linked branches that famously became the House of Rothschild: Amschel (later Anselm) in Frankfurt, Nathan in London, Jacob (James) in Paris, Salomon in Vienna and Calmann (Carl) in Naples. “As investors, builders of railroads, patrons of art and Jews admitted to the highest precincts of power, the Rothschilds were still hobbled by the anti-Semitism of their era. (Salomon lived in a Viennese hotel because he was banned from owning a house.) But they were leading figures in international finance, creating a modern empire from their father’s money-changing.” (Deborah Stead, The New York Times)
The Rothschilds continued to grow their wealth and influence through the 1900s, as the five brothers managed each family branch in tandem. “For most of the century between 1815 and 1914, the Rothschild’s multinational partnership was easily the biggest bank in the world…The twentieth century has no equivalent: not even the biggest of today’s international banking corporations enjoys the relative supremacy enjoyed by the Rothschilds in their heyday.” (Niall Ferguson, House of Rothschild, Vol. I)
Key elements to preserving the cohesive structure of the Rothschild House were the regular renewal of partnership agreements among family members. But even more essential were prearranged nuptial agreements — Rothschilds married only other Rothschilds, thereby keeping the family capital intact. This policy lasted for several generations, but inevitably, there were conflicts. Cousins refused to wed cousins. Husbands and wives quarreled. Separations diverted the family treasure.
In 1861, assets for the Naples House were transferred to Frankfurt because there were no male heirs to inherit the management. As was the custom of that period, women were not allowed to own or manage property. Later in 1886, the Frankfurt offices were closed and the assets redistributed, again because there were no male heirs.
During World War II, under Nazi Germany, Rothschild properties were seized, including the firm in Austria. Baron Louis Nathaniel de Rothschild, who managed the company at the time, was arrested in 1938 and imprisoned. For over a year, the family worked to negotiate his release, finally paying a ransom of over $21,000,000 or, adjusted for currency and inflation rates today, approximately $375,000,000 (Giles MacDonogh, 1938: Hitler’s Gamble)
By 1970, three Rothschild banks remained—the London and Paris branches and a Swiss bank founded by Baron Edmond Adolphe de Rothschild. In 1982, President Francois Mitterrand’s government nationalized the Paris bank renaming it Compagnie Européenne de Banque.
Today, the Rothschild wealth has been divided among many descendants and heirs. Family holdings span a number of industries, including financial services, real estate, mining, energy, and numerous charitable organizations. The Rothschilds have also invested heavily in vineyards, where they’ve proven to be as ingenious and adept with wine production as they have been in finance.
Château Mouton Rothschild
Foremost among this wine-producing group is Baron Philippe de Rothschild, who at the age of 20 took over Château Mouton Rothschild, originally purchased by his great grandfather, Nathaniel de Rothschild. In 1924, Philippe decided he wanted more control of his wine. So, in a ground-breaking move, he relocated all production — fermenting, maturing and bottling — to the Château. At the time, estates sold their bulk production to Negociants who managed wine processing from harvest to marketing and sold the wine under their own name and labels. Philippe’s historic move revolutionized winemaking as we know it today.
Philippe was also the first to work with well-known artists to design and illustrate his labels. The one-of-a-kind labels increase the value of Mouton wines and collectors dream of having a vertical Mouton in their cellars.
Baron Philippe’s most famous accomplishment, of course, was elevating Mouton’s status to “First Growth.” Still to this day an unimaginable feat, accomplished after decades of intense lobbying — as only a Rothschild can.
The Baron continued to expand his empire with the acquisitions of Châteaux Clerc Milon, D’Armailhac and Aile d’Argent. A collaboration with Robert Mondavi in 1980, produced Opus One — now one of Napa’s most iconic properties.
Similarly, in 1997, Philippe’s daughter, Philippine de Rothschild, partnered with Chilean powerhouse Concha y Toro to create Viña Almaviva. Located in the Maipo Valley, the 60-hectare estate is an ideal location for Cabernet Sauvignon and the wine receives top ratings annually.
Baron Philippe de Rothschild passed away in 1988, while Baroness Philippine passed in 2014. A new generation of Rothschild — Philippine’s three children — now manage the legendary Château: Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, Camille Sereys de Rothschild and Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild. All three are co-owners, but Philippe Sereys de Rothschild is the acting Chairman of the Board of Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA — and the one signing the labels on the Mouton bottles these days.
Château Lafite Rothschild
Established in 1234, Château Lafite came into its own during the first half of the 19th century with a number of remarkable vintages: 1795, 1798 and 1818. The First Growth vineyard is one of the largest in the Médoc at 107 hectares and has consistently produced highly sought-after wine. As a testament to the estate’s preeminence, three bottles of 1869 Château Lafite Rothschild sold for HK$1.8M (US$232,692) each, in 2010, setting an auction record.
James Mayer Rothschild purchased the property in 1868 and Rothschilds have been at the helm ever since. Baron Éric de Rothschild, managed the vineyards from 1974 until this past year, when he appointed his daughter Saskia to take his place. At age 33, Saskia is the youngest person to lead a First Growth Bordeaux estate and the first woman to chair Domaines Barons de Rothschild.
In addition to Lafite, company holdings include seven wineries on three continents: Bordeaux Châteaux Rieussec, L’ Evangile, and Duhart-Milon, Domaine D’Aussières in Languedoc, Viña Los Vascos in Chile, and joint-venture Bodegas Caro in Argentina. Additionally the company produces three lines of branded everyday wine—Légende, Saga, and Réserve Spéciale— for a grand total of 3 million bottles a year.
Purchased by Baron Edmond Adolphe de Rothschild in 1973, Château Clarke is one of the more recent Rothschild acquisitions. The property, located in Listrac-Médoc, was founded by the Cistercian monks in the 12th century, then later bought by Irishman Tobie Clarke, for whom the estate is named.
Edmond Adolphe de Rothschild, the great grandson of James Mayer de Rothschild (original owner of Château Lafite) replanted the vineyards, made massive investments to renovate winemaking facilities and constructed a magnificent residence. His fascination with Château Clarke, a Cru Bourgeois — as opposed to the First Growth properties of his cousins — is very much in keeping with his character. “Although he was one of the richest of the Rothschilds, he was also a bit of a maverick, following his own path in banking and wine as well as in his private life. His marriage to Nadine L’Hopitalier in 1963 stunned French society. Nadine came from a penniless family, had no education beyond grammar school…And she was Catholic!” (Frank J. Prial, The New York Times)
But, the marriage was a success, as was the renovation of Château Clarke. Edmond also acquired Château Malmaison, an estate located adjacent to Clarke. Once again, he completely renovated the property, then named the wine in honor of his wife, Baroness Nadine de Rothschild.
Currently, Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, the son of Edmond and Nadine, manages the properties. Additionally, he purchased Château des Laurets in 2003, in the Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion and Montagne-Saint-Emillion appellations. A spectacular 19th century, refurbished Château crowns the estate. Vineyards dating back to the 12th century grow on superb clay-limestone soil, ideal for growing Merlot. The winery was overhauled in 2004. Smaller wood and stainless steel tanks enable vinification by plot.
Benjamin also serves as the largest shareholder in Château Lafite Rothschild and has purchased vineyards in South Africa and Argentina to expand the company named in his father’s honor, Compagnie Vinicole Edmond de Rothschild.
Champagne Barons de Rothschild
In 2005, Benjamin de Rothschild convinced the other two branches of the wine-producing family to collaborate in the creation of a Champagne house. Together, the members of Châteaux Mouton Rothschild, Lafite Rothschild and Clarke established an office in Reims, Champagne. Later, the family acquired Maison Prieur, in Vertus, for cellaring.
The group contracts with top producers in Champagne to procure Chardonnay from the region’s greatest Grands Crus and Premiers Crus appellations: Avize, Cramant, Mesnil-sur-Oger, Vertus. The wines are blended and matured for at least four years. The Rothschild Champagnes have received accolades for their elegance and refinement — fulfilling the family expectations and a heritage of some 165+ years producing some of the world’s most collectible wines.
Now that’s something to cheer about!
We are proud to offer a collection of Rothschild wines from Champagne and Bordeaux as well as other regions in France, the U.S. and South America.
Champagne Barons de Rothschild
2008 Vintage Brut. $149.99
2010 Vintage Brut. $69.99
Blanc de Blancs. $58.99
Brut in Magnum. $97.99
Brut Rosé in Magnum $119.99
Blanc de Blancs Brut in Magnum. $129.99
Brut in gift box. $59.99
Brut Rosé in gift box. $62.99
Château Mouton Rothschild
2007 Barons de Rothschild Collection: One bottle each of Mouton, Armailhac, Clerc Milon. $1,049.00
2009 Barons de Rothschild Collection: One bottle each of Mouton, Armailhac, Clerc Milon. $1,199.00
2010 Château Mouton Rothschild “Le Petit Mouton” $469.00
2018 Clerc-Milon. $82.99 4 bottles
2014 Opus One in Magnum. $699.99. 1 bottle only.
2015 Opus One in Magnum. $729.99. 3 bottles
2015 Baron d’Arques (Limoux Cabernet Blend) $26.99
2016 Baron d’Arques (Limoux Chardonnay) $26.99
2016 Imperiale (6 Liters) Château d’Armailhac. $750. 1 bottle only.
2017 Opus One. $299.99
2017 Opus One in half-bottles. $159.99
NV Opus One Overture. $112.99
2018 Alma Viva. $114.99. Arriving 12/2020
Château Lafite Rothschild
2016 Lafite Rothschild. $849.99. 4 bottles only.
2010 Château Duhart-Milon. $134.99
2012 Château Duhart-Milon. $79.99. 3 bottles
2015 Château Duhart-Milon. $74.99. 4 bottles
2018 Château Duhart-Milon. $73.99.
2015 Château L’Évangile. $219.99
2016 Carruades de Lafite. $299.99
Carruades de Lafite Vertical Collection: 2 bottles each of 09-10-14-15-16. $5,600.00
Château Clarke, Edmond de Rothschild
2015 Château Clarke. $31.99
2015 Château Malmaison. $29.99
2015 Château des Laurets. $25.99
2015 Château des Laurets, Sélection Parcellaire. $74.99
Prices listed here do not reflect tariffs, which at this writing are still in effect.
Château Lafite Rothschild. JS 99-100 RP 98-100. $629.99. 8 bottles
Carruades de Lafite. JS 95-96. $237. 12 bottles
Château Duhart-Milon. JD 94-96+ $73.99
Château L’Evangile. JS 98-99. $236.99. 4 bottles
Château Rieussec by Lafite Rothschild in half-bottles. RP 93-95. $24.40
Château Mouton Rothschild. JS-100. $547.99. 17 bottles
Château Mouton Rothschild in Magnum. JS-100. $1,109.99. 3 bottles
Château Clerc-Milon. DC-96. $82.99. 4 bottles.
Mouton Rothschild “Aile d’Argent” Blanc. $79.99.
2018 Duclot Prestige Collection Case: 9 bottle case with the following Châteaux: Ausone, Cheval Blanc, Haut-Brion, Lafite Rothschild, Margaux, La Mission Haut-Brion, Mouton Rothschild and Pétrus. $8,895.99. 2 cases available.
Château Mouton Rothschild. JS 99-100 RP 98-100. $428.99. 32 bottles
Château Mouton Rothschild “Le Petit Mouton” JS 96-97. $190.99. 11 bottles
Mouton Rothschild “Aile d’Argent” Blanc. JS 97-98. $79.99. 9 bottles
2019 Duclot Prestige Collection Case: 9 bottle case with the following Châteaux: Ausone, Cheval Blanc, Haut0Brion, Lafite Rothschild, Margaux, La Mission Haut-Brion, Mouton Rothschild and Pétrus. $6,999.99. 2 cases available.