Château Ausone 2018
• 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 2018 Ausone is a blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot. Deep garnet-purple in color, rather predictably, the nose is almost completely shut-down on first sniff, taking considerable aeration to begin to reveal its jaw-dropping perfume of ripe black cherries, wild blueberries and plum preserves, leading to suggestions of candied violets, molten chocolate, licorice and crushed rocks with subtle cedar and pencil lead hints. The medium to full-bodied palate (14.5% alcohol) is so tightly wound and nuanced at this stage, it requires a lot of focus unravel all that is going on here. In short: a lot. The ripe, rich, black and blue fruit layers eventually give way to the beautifully cerebral earthy/minerally subtext, carried by fantastically well-knit tension, delivering an incredibly long, foundation-shaking finish. If the earth doesn't move when you drink this, you're probably not doing it right." Lisa Perotti-Brown, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (End Of March Issue, 3/31/21) Rating: 100, Drink: 2028 - 2068
"The 2018 Ausone is mind-blowing. The aromatics alone are mesmerizing. I don't know what more to say. Cabernet Franc is so expressive, so vibrant so nuanced. Rose petal, cinnamon, star anise and sage meld into a core of red fleshed fruit. The 2018 doesn't impress with opulence or richness, rather it is a Saint-Émilion that is all about persistence and energy. I won't be at all surprised if it merits a higher score in the future. Readers who can find it should not hesitate. The 2018 is a viscerally thrilling wine of the highest level."- Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, Rating: 99, Drink: 2028-2058
"Ratcheting up the intensity, the 2018 Château Ausone has an essence of limestone-like character as well as thrilling notes of blackberries, black raspberries, white flowers, truffle, forest floor, and graphite. Possessing full-bodied richness, a deep, beautifully concentrated mid-palate, ample tannins, and a great finish, this is a powerful, layered Ausone that’s going to need 5-7 years of bottle age but should knock your socks off over the following 25+ years. The 2018 is a blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot, brought up in a mix of new and used barrels." - Jeb Dunnuck, Jebdunnuck.com, Rating: 96-99
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