The connection between art and wine is, in a word, ancient. As long as we’ve had the good sense to put goblets and glasses to our lips, we’ve been making tomb paintings, hieroglyphics and crude drawings to pay homage to that coveted pastime of drinking. Not until 1945, however, did the relationship reach its current elevated heights, when the Baron Philippe de Rothschild established a tradition of commissioning a painting for the label of every vintage from his Château Mouton Rothschild. Today, the concept is perhaps more prevalent than it needs to be—after all, a really great label doesn’t make a bad wine taste better, and even the finest masterpiece on an empty bottle won’t end up in any gallery. On occasion, however, a wine-and-art collaboration is so good, it’s as easy on the eyes as it is on the palate. Here, two new releases—including one from the baron’s château itself—that attempt the perfect mash-up.
Buy It for the Art: Château Mouton Rothschild 2016
It seems nobody can outdo Rothschild—which has worked with everyone from Miró to Picasso to create one-of-a-kind labels—and the château’s upcoming 2016 release featuring the work of William Kentridge is no exception. The South African artist has depicted a series of carousing silhouettes inspired by characters from the great masters, from Titian to Matisse, to exuberantly traverse the top of the label. Given Kentridge’s collectibility, you’ll be tempted to keep the bottle even after you’ve poured the last drop of wine—which is pretty masterful itself, with intense fruit and spice aromas, a rich texture and balanced tannins. (Available at Chateau Mouton Rothschild, $699.)
Buy It for the Wine: Amuse Bouche 2016 Red Blend, Napa Valley
Winemaker Heidi Barrett (of Screaming Eagle fame) is a double threat when it comes to producing excellent wines in beautiful bottles. Her Amuse Bouche has commissioned over the years everyone from Wayne Thiebaud to Jacques Pépin, but for her new 2016 Merlot blend, Barrett, a commercial artist herself, did the honors, painting an image of the very vines that produced the vintage for the label. The wine is a work of art on its own, refreshingly full-bodied and brimming with fruit and spice. Though you’ll likely toss the bottle once it’s empty, not to worry: Members who purchase six bottles will receive a signed lithograph of Barrett’s A Secret Vineyard. (Available at Amuse Bouche Wine, $225.)