Château Ausone 2016
• Domaine: Château Ausone
• Appellation: Saint-Emilion
• Classification: Premier Grand Cru Classé A
• Origin: Right Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
Many Wine Critics agree if there was one place to visit in Bordeaux and one wine to try, it would be Château Ausone. Since the mid 1990s, the wines from this extraordinary estate have skyrocketed in terms of quality, equal to some of the top First Growth properties in the Médoc. Despite all the fanfare and critical acclaim, this astounding Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé A chateau remains somewhat cloaked in obscurity. The reason is simply that production here is so small and the demand from overseas buyers so high that a very small number of cases make it into the US market. In fact, some argue the wines of Château Ausone are harder to find than the wines of the rarified Pomerol property Château Pétrus. With all that in mind, Château Ausone is a remarkable estate with a fascinating history and wines that are some of the most profound in all of Bordeaux.
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.
Château Ausone is one of a handful of Bordeaux estates that is family owned and has always been. As a matter of fact, only three different families have owned and managed the vineyard since the property’s inception. Château Ausone is presently managed by a father daughter team - Alain and Pauline Vauthier. The tiny, 7-hectare vineyard is nestled in the dramatic slopes of the limestone hills in Saint-Émilion. The vines at Château Ausone are 50 years old on average with some of the older plots reaching a hundred years of age.
The vines of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot sit in a steeply terraced, limestone amphitheater that is not only gorgeous to look at but considered universally by vignerons to be the best terroir in Bordeaux. The vines are the star of the show here, pulling nutrients from the rich limestone terroir, thriving in the shelter from the steep terraces, and enjoying the moderate climate. The team tends to the vines using techniques that are inspired by biodynamic and organic viticulture. At Château Ausone, they believe nature does the work in producing great wine.
Due to their limestone terroir, they possess an 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 of bottle ageing. During average vintages across Bordeaux, these wines shine. During truly remarkable vintages, they are untouchable.
"The 2016 Ausone was mightily impressive from barrel. Bottled in July 2018, it has a very intense bouquet of black cherries, <em>cassis</em>, cedar and light pencil box aromas emanating from the 50% Cabernet Franc. The palate is medium-bodied with supple, filigreed tannin that belies the density and structure of this Ausone. There is something agile about Alain and Pauline Vauthier's wine this year. Yet the wine also reveals considerable depth and concentration, gently but insistently gripping the palate with a touch of white pepper and Earl Grey toward the persistent finish. There is not a hair out of place on this Ausone – one of the finest produced in recent years." - Neal Martin, vinous.com, (January, 2019), Rating: 99; Drink: 2026-2070
"The 2016 Ausone is a blend of 50% Cabernet Franc and 50% Merlot. Deep garnet-purple colored, it's quite closed at first glance, slowly unfurling to reveal the most incredible perfume of violets, chocolate-covered cherries, warm black plums, Black Forest cake and roasted nuts with suggestions of charcuterie, wood smoke and cedar chest. The medium to full-bodied palate offers a quiet intensity of flavors that grow in the mouth to unveil layer after layer of black and red berries intertwined with beautiful savory notions framed by firm yet velvety tannins, finishing with epic length and amazing energy. It practically tingles on the palate!" - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (11/30/2018, Interim Issue), Ratings: 99, Drink: 2022-2066