CELLIERS d’Asie hosted a special wine-tasting at the Sokha Angkor Resort in Siem Reap recently to welcome the representative of Baron Philippe de Rothschild wines, and also to spend time with local customers. About 90 managers and owners of restaurants, bars and hotels from all over town showed up to sample Rothschild wines.
Patrick Lachapèle is from the same part of the world as the original Château Brane Mouton first acquired by Baron Nathaniel Rothschild in 1853, and is now the Asia trade relations manager for the family company that still owns some of the most famous vineyards and brands in Bordeaux and around the world.
In Siem Reap, some of these will be instantly recognisable, such as the Chilean Mapu wines which can be found on wine lists all over town. Others, like the Chilean label Escudo Rojo, will be found only on the pricier lists.
Lachapèle filled me in on some of the 150-year history of the company, a literal testament to the maxim that success breeds success.
The first vineyard, Château Brane Mouton, was acquired in 1853 by Nathaniel Rothschild and then renamed before becoming one of the most famous names in wine, Chateau Mouton Rothschild.
In Siem Reap, we might be hard pressed to get our hands on a bottle of that, or indeed on a bottle of equally well-known Chateau Lafite Rothschild, which was founded by Nathaniel’s uncle James.
Both are Bordeaux Premier Crus, an appellation applied to only five wines under the Bordeaux Official Classification.
What we can get though is the most popular wine in the world, Mouton Cadet which, you may or may not know, originated in the Mouton Rothschild vineyard.
Philippe de Rothschild, great-grandson of Nathaniel Rothschild, had revolutionised the wine industry in 1924 with the decision to bottle each vintage at the château, thereby retaining control of quality, and price. 1927 and successive vintages however produced poor harvests so, rather than sell it under the name of the château, he created a new brand, Mouton Cadet.
Notwithstanding this less than glorious beginning, the wines produced went on to become so successful that Mouton Rothschild was compelled to source harvests from other producers in nearby Saint Estephe to keep up with demand. It is now the highest selling wine in the world, and available in supermarkets.
Scott McNeill, the Siem Reap branch manager for Celliers d’Asie, was very pleased with the turn-out for the event. “We are keen to understand and keep up with the needs of our local customers as they are constantly changing with the market,” he said. He is planning more events like this in the future too, “We intend to keep listening,” he added.