Château Ausone 2009
Château Ausone is not a wine casually served. Its "minuscule production", once observed Robert Parker Jr., "makes it nearly impossible to find commercially." Even the professionals in the wine trade don't get to taste it often. Bordeaux-domiciled independent wine critic Jane Anson (formerly columnist for Decanter magazine) commented how most critics are limited to tasting it at en primeur barrel sampling, and won't see it again for 10 or 20 years, if ever.
The property derives its name, Château Ausone, from the legendary Roman poet Ausonius who is said to have lived in a villa on its steeply sloped limestone hills. Ausonius referenced Bordeaux in one of his many poems, writing: “Bordeaux is my homeland, with its gentle breeze, its merciful sky, the generous gifts of its fertile soil, its long Spring and its warming morning mists. The mighty tidal river, below the vine-bedecked slopes, foams and boils as it surges towards the sea like a wave.” Whether he lived at the actual property remains in question. Regardless, visitors can find Roman ruins in the vineyards and records of Ausonius living in Bordeaux throughout history.
Like any great wine, the story behind Château Ausone is a story of a family who is committed to the land they were blessed with. It is a story of efforts made through many generations. The modern era of Ausone started with the marriage of Edouard Dubois and Mlle Challon in 1891. After Edouard's premature death in 1921, the property was managed by his widow and two children - Jean and Cécile. Jean died in 1974, leaving his half to his widow, Mme Dubois-Challon. The other half belongs to Cécile who married M Vauthier. The two branches of the family were cordial. But there were stories of internal bickering and constant friction due to differences in the philosophy of winemaking. Some say the wine of this esteemed producer from the 1960s and 1970s was mediocre. Maybe it had something to do with the disagreements over methods and practices. Finally, in the mid 1990s, the Vauthier family bought out Mme Dubois-Challon, a new era of Château Ausone was born.
The current head of the Vauthier family, Pauline, started working in the vineyards at the age of 18. Since she took over winemaking in 2005, Ausone has gone from one great vintage to another. Although not officially certified, organic farming is practiced in the vineyard. Due to the limestone soils of Ausone, the wine has incredible minerality, purity of fruit, and concentration. They are rich and full-bodied without being heavy. A bottle of Château Ausone demands time in the cellar – typically 15 to 20 years. Even during an average vintage in Bordeaux, Ausone shines. In truly remarkable vintages, Ausone takes off like a rocket ship. We have only one issue with this great estate: each year's allocation is simply too small to meet the demand from clients. Consider adding your name to our waitlist.
"A masterpiece in the making, proprietor Alain Vauthier’s 2009 Ausone boasts a dense purple color along with notes of powdered chalk, crushed rocks and wild blue, red and black fruits. Extravagantly rich with great minerality, precision and freshness as well as a voluptuous texture (unusual for a baby Ausone), this is an extraordinary wine. Sadly, there are fewer than 1,200 cases ... for the world. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2060+" - Robert Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate (12/22/2011) Rating: 98+, Drink: 2020 - 2060
"The 2009 Ausone, was produced at probably twice the yields of the absolutely remarkable 2008, but is another profound effort from Vauthier. Dense purple in color, with an almost liqueur of limestone intermixed with acacia flowers, blueberry, raspberry, and boysenberry fruit, the use of 100% new oak is completely concealed by the wealth of fruit and the lavish richness this wine exhibits. Nevertheless, there is a striking precision, minerality, and purity to Ausone. This wine might be far more drinkable in 7-8 years than the 2005 or 2008 will be with the same amount of aging. Nevertheless, any person lucky enough to latch on to one of the 1200 or so cases of this wine should realize it is going to evolve for 20-50 years. (Tasted once.)
Two more brilliant wines from Alain Vauthier, but you might have to forgive me for not giving a potentially perfect score in 2009. Readers (and I) have been spoiled by my reviews of 2008, 2005, 2003, and 2000. Certainly, his 2009 may turn out to be as riveting, but at this stage, I would have to rate all those vintages just a notch or two higher." - Robert Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate (4/26/2010) Rating: (95-97)+, Drink: 2010 - 2060