Château Ausone 2017
• 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.
"Blended of 55% Cabernet Franc and 45% Merlot, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Ausone offers up slowly emerging notes of crushed black plums, blackberries and mulberries with nuances of anise, violets, new leather and unsmoked cigars plus suggestions of black olives and truffles and a touch of cast iron pan. Medium to full-bodied with firm, very finely grained, super ripe tannins and an uplifting backbone of freshness perfectly supporting the profoundly layered, tightly wound yet incredibly intense fruit, it finishes very long with mineral accents and compelling tension...
First, the bad news: because of the frosts, there is no Simard this year. Now for the good news: the flagship wine here is blow-you-away extraordinary. "I think now we are making wines that have the ability to drink now and also age,” Pauline Vauthier told me. “I think the technique of the winemaking has changed. We are becoming lighter with extraction. Now it is about maceration...like a tea bag,” she smiled. With absolutely no frost damage to the 2017 crop at Château Ausone this year, Alain and his daughter Pauline have nailed the expression of the 2017 vintage, revealing the disarming beauty of this year with layers of perfume and wonderfully “sweet,” super-ripe tannins, plus the arresting intensity that the best examples possess. Bravo/brava!" - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (4/27/2018, Issue 236), Ratings: 97-99
"From a vintage compared to 2011 and 2014 by the estate, the 2017 Chateau Ausone is a classic blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot that’s from the pure limestone hillsides just outside the village of Saint-Emilion. This full-bodied, elegant, almost Burgundian beauty offers a terrific seamlessness as well as lots of ripe cassis and black cherry fruits, notes of truffle-laced earth, tobacco, and crushed stone, ultra-fine tannins, and a great finish. This is classic Ausone, with its complexity and elegance paired with plenty of richness and depth. It needs 5-7 years of bottle age and will evolve for 2-3 decades." -Jeb Dunnuck, Jebdunnuck.com, Rating: 96, Maturity: 2025-2055
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