It's a vintage year for Prince's watercolors
By Marcus Leroux and Alan Hamilton from The Times
The Prince of Wales, a talented amateur watercolorist, has been admitted to a pantheon of artistic fame in the illustrious company of Picasso, Dali and Francis Bacon.
His depiction of golden pines against the azure sky of Cap d'Antibes will not, however, grace the walls of any national gallery or Cork Street dealer. It's better than that: his work will grace the label of the latest release of Chateau Mouton Rothschild, probably France 's most prestigious wine.
It is an honour bestowed each year upon the world's Zeitgeist -defining artists. But the wine world was astonished when the latest choice was revealed for the 2004 vintage, a year regarded as good but not great — much, indeed, like the artist himself.
Yet admission of the Prince to the club has sent prices through the roof as dealers and aficionados scramble to get hold of a case or two. Bottles carrying his work have surpassed the price fetched by the 1964 vintage graced with Henry Moore's design. Indeed, the Prince is quickly catching up with Picasso and has already overtaken Wassily Kandinsky.
Since the wine world learnt of the news in September, prices have risen 22 per cent, equating to a princely premium of ?200 a case. It is expected to retail at ?140 a bottle, compared with ?100 for a bottle of the 1964. Some 20,000 cases are about to go on sale.
Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, the chairman, struck upon the idea of commissioning the Prince for the 2004 vintage to celebrate 100 years of Anglo-French friendship. But some observers suspect that the move had less to do with the Entente Cordiale , and more to do with the marche mondiale as French winemakers try to escape the malaise blighting their industry with added appeal for the Anglo-Saxon market.
“It's a very clever ruse, said James Miles, of Liv-Ex, the “stock exchange” of the wine market. “It's a good wine. But it's not a blockbuster . . . people will collect it for the label.”
Herve Berland, the commercial director of Phillipe de Rothschild, told The Times that although the 2004 vintage was expected to be a big seller on the other side of La Manche there had been no hidden motive in commissioning the Prince. “Baroness de Rothschild never thinks in terms of speculation about prices. There's no such process,” Mr Berland said.
He was also quick to point out that it would be just the drink talking should anyone suggest that a price comparison put the Prince on a par with Picasso.
Will Prince Charles' paintbrush help sales of Mouton?
by Charles Metcalfe from www.wine-business-international.com
A painting by Prince Charles, heir to the UK throne, has been chosen to embellish the label of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 2004. Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, owner of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, has selected the painting to celebrate 100 years of the `Entente Cordiale? between the UK and France, which originally arose out of a meeting between Prince Charles?s great, great grandfather (then Albert Edward, Prince of Wales; later Edward VII) and Leon Gambetta, the French statesman.
The painting is a watercolor of pine trees growing out of sandy soil set against a blue sky, painted at the Cap d?Antibes in the Cote d'Azur . It's a typically southern French scene, which would be familiar to any British holidaymaker who has visited the south of France . Nothing to do with wine, but maybe an astute choice by the Baroness, with an eye to the marketing of the classically 2004 vintage in the UK , a market that appreciates a more restrained style of Bordeaux . The splendid 2005 vintage needs no such marketing help, so perhaps she will revert to a purely artistic choice for that label.
Whatever the effect of the label on sales of Mouton 2004, if only this celebration of 1904's `Entente Cordiale? were reflected by an overall increase in French wine sales in the UK , the French would feel even better about it.
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