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Saturday 20 December 2014

Baroness Philippine de Rothschild dies

26th August, 2014 by Rupert Millar

One of the wine world’s leading figureheads, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild has died aged 80.

Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, credit Karl Lagerfeld

Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, credit Karl Lagerfeld

The announcement was made last Saturday by the family and apparently followed major surgery towards the end of last week.

Baroness Philippine was arguably the greatest grande dame of Bordeaux of recent times and was the owner, most notably, of Château Mouton Rothschild which she inherited from her equally famous father Baron Philippe who managed to overturn the 1855 classification and elevate the estate to a first growth in the 1970s.

She took over the running of the property and its sister estates d’Armhailac and Clerc Milon in 1988 following her father’s death.

Prior to that she had enjoyed a 30 year career as an actress under the name Philippine Pascal and during which time she married her first husband the actor Jacques Sereys.

Her second marriage was to the academic Jean-Pierre de Beaumarchais.

Under her guidance, Mouton continued to develop the international partnerships begun under her father with Opus One, stretching to Chile and the Almaviva partnership with Concha y Toro.

During her tenure Mouton’s labels added the likes of Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud, Anish Kapoor and The Prince of Wales to its already star-studded cast.

A recipient of the Légion d’Honneur in 2007, she was also awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Institute of Masters of Wine and the drinks business last year.

Speaking at the ceremony, Jean-Michel Valette MW, chairman of the institute, praised her for her, “steadfast devotion to quality and the long term health of a very diverse set of wineries”.

He continued: Baroness de Rothschild has succeeded where few have. Supervising the growth of a substantial business while maintaining the highest levels of image and prestige across multiple geographies is a rare and commendable achievement. We are honoured to recognize her lifetime of work.”

Tributes have begun flowing in, with Bordeaux’s mayor Alain Juppé calling her a “great lady” with “admirable energy” who devoted herself to “the cultural prestige of our country”.

A dominant presence at every event she attended, she also had an irrepressible love of fireworks and any attendee to a Mouton party was sure to enjoy a lengthy and no doubt spectacular display.

She is survived by her three children, Camille, Philippe and Julien.

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