Following months of speculation, today saw the official unveiling of the Mouton 2008 label. The label was designed by Chinese artist Xu Lei – the artistic director of the Today Art Museum – and despicts a ram standing on top of a rock, between two halves of the moon. According to Mouton's press release, 'Xu Lei's ram (the chateau's emblem) asserts the role of a great wine as a link between people and cultures, from one hemisphere to the other of "planet wine".'
The announcement concerning the latest label design comes as no surprise, as the possibility that the 2008 would feature the work of a Chinese artist was widely reported this year. These reports, combined with a surge in Lafite 08 prices (caused by the news that the vintage is to feature a Chinese figure eight), sparked particularly strong trade this month. Prior to the announcement, Mouton 08 changed hands at £6,910 per 12x75cl case - up from £4,250 in October (+63%). This steep increase suggests that 08 prices already included a large premium for the Chinese-inspired label, although the wine traded at a new high of £7,800 today.
The chateau has been commissioning contemporary artists to design the upper part of the label every year since 1945. And whilst the artists are not officially paid for their work, they are given cases of the First Growth for their efforts, including cases of "their" vintage. Xu Lei joins a list of artists that includes Picasso, Dali, Miró, Warhol, Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud and the Prince of Wales. Last year, French sculptor Bernar Venet designed the label for the 2007 vintage, whilst Lucien Freud provided the label for the 2006.