Solar Iris of Mouton
Specially designed by Olafur Eliasson for Château Mouton Rothschild, the label is an abstract portrait of the location.
The label is divided in two horizontally – a strip of gold at the top reflects the daytime, and a dark midnight blue at the bottom represents nights. At its centre is a circular cut-out that allows a glimpse of the wine inside the bottle. Around this hole, a series of ellipses form a ring that charts the path of the sun in relation to the planet at the location of Château Mouton Rothschild, in Pauillac. The segments of the ring above the dividing line form white arcs on the gold surround, with the lowest arc designating the shortest day of the year and the top arc, the longest. On the lower-half of the label, the sun’s path dips below the horizon, out of view from the vineyard, and is drawn in white against the dark background.
Along the top part of the solar diagram, elongated figure-eight shapes intersect the arcs at regular intervals. These shapes, known as analemmas, present the path of the sun as seen from a single point throughout the year. In the past, they were used in astronomy and in connection with sundials to make the telling of time more accurate. The variations in the sun’s position in the sky arise from the movements of the earth around the sun and along its axis. The motion of the earth and the passing of time become visible in the shape of the analemma. Sun charts, astronomical phenomena, and navigational instruments have served the artist as inspiration for a wide range of artworks over the years, and in 2009, Eliasson captured a photographic image of an analemma by photographing the sky at the same time of day for a year.
Eliasson says: “Solar iris of Mouton is a map of all the sunsets and sunrises that take place over a year at Château Mouton Rothschild. Depicting each hour of daylight and night-time that go into the growing of the grapes, it is a kind of signature for the vineyard, telling us something about the conditions in which the wine grew and the intimate relationship between the wine and its location. Tasting the wine connects us to the local environment, to the soil, and to the particular weather, seasons, and lighting of the place. Visible through the eye-like oculus at the centre of the label, the wine contains the golden sun, the earth, and the sky; it is local and it simultaneously bears a trace of the celestial.”