Château Ausone 2018
• Domaine: Château Ausone
• Appellation: Saint-Emilion
• Classification: Premier Grand Cru Classé A
• Origin: Right Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
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.
"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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