Chinese artist designs new Mouton Rothschild label

Mouton-Rothschild has asked a Beijing artist, Xu Lei, to design the label for its 2008 vintage, in the footsteps of Georges Braque, Salvador Dali or Joan Miro, the Bordeaux chateau said Monday.

Kept under wraps until the last moment, the predominantly blue painting features a ram standing on a rock and was chosen by Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, owner of the French chateau and a patron of the arts.

The Baroness' father Philippe first enlisted an artist to design Mouton's label in 1924, and every label since 1945 has featured a new work of art. The artists receive 10 cases of wine in lieu of money for payment.

Xu, 47, is the art director of the Today Art Museum, a major Beijing contemporary museum.

"It's above all else a personal choice rather than a commercial choice," Herve Berland, managing director of Chateau Mouton Rothschild, told AFP.

He said the Baroness "gives a chance to artists from different countries... China has become a major consumer of fine wine, so it seems natural to select a Chinese artist."

The 2008 vintage, still resting in Mouton's cellars in Pauillac in southwestern France, will arrive on shop shelves in France in January and in Asia and America in February.

Originally resold on the futures market in the spring of 2009 for approximately 150 euros (200 dollars) per bottle, the wine currently sells for 600 euros in France and 900 in Hong Kong.