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Revolutionary change

Published:  18 January, 2007

It's humid, grey and gloomy in Bordeaux. Edouard Thouvenot, export area manager for Baron Philippe de Rothschild, is outlining the plans for Mouton Cadet (MC) in a grey, rather gloomy, unprepossessing building in a small industrial estate outside Pauillac, a far cry from what you would expect from the owners of first growth Chateau Mouton Rothschild.

When I was asked to find out about the future plans for Mouton Cadet, a thought flitted across my mind: 'Do I really care about this sad old neglected brand from way back when?' But, as a totally professional journalist, I accepted the invitation to fly to Bordeaux for the day.

I popped into the Sanderstead Waitrose on the way home to see if they had any Mouton Cadet - they didn't - so with some trepidation I asked if I could get some samples. They duly arrived and I cracked open the bottles on the eve of departure to accompany my grilled chicken, courtesy of Sainsbury's, and some left-over salads while watching Wimbledon replays. And don't you know, they weren't half bad.

The '04 white and '03 red both did what they say on the bottle. The white was fresh, crisp, with good citrus and tropical notes, a perfectly acceptable white Bordeaux; while the red had good fruit (dark berries, cherries, blackberries), with the acidity that is characteristic of Bordeaux - not thin, not green, but then they'd have to work hard to achieve that with the stinking-hot '03 vintage.

Not bad at all. In fact, perfectly acceptable, entry-level wines. So, time to reassess then