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Château Ausone, the mysteries of a great wine

Château Ausone, the mysteries of a great wine

Emmanuel Tresmontant - 2009-11-09

A Premier Grand Cru Classé "A" [the highest rating for a Saint-Émilion classification], Château Ausone is regarded by experts as the finest Grand Cru Classé from the Bordeaux region. Owner, Alain Vauthier, was kind enough to welcome us to the Ausone estate just before the 2009 harvest.

 
The vine’s roots plunge through the flagstones and down into a 16th century stone quarry excavation now converted into a winery - the Ausone storehouse! The vertical view presented to visitors is just fabulous, encapsulating perfectly the relationship between vines and stone that is unique to Saint-Emilion: at the top, vines with roots weaving directly through the limestone rock and, a few feet below, the 200 oak barrels in which Ausone wine is matured over a 20 month period.

For Vauthier, who assumed control of the Château in 1997, the magnetism of the place is undeniable: "there are positive energies here that I feel physically and that I’m sure are expressed in the wine. From a scientific perspective, this is virgin territory that remains unexplored!"

Born in
Saint-Émilion, Vauthier is one of France’s most respected winemakers and one of the most secretive too ... How has this man elevated Ausone to the level of elite estates such as Petrus, Latour and Margaux? "Up until 1997, Ausone was a very good "two star" Grand Cru of Bordeaux. In 10 years, Vauthier has taken it to "three star" level, possibly, the first of its kind!" explains Robert Vifian, who has closely followed the rise of Ausone.

Unlike many of his colleagues, Vauthier despises travel and rarely holidays. Other than affording himself the luxury of a new cashmere (“Because it’s stronger”) sweater every 5 years or so, he spends next to nothing. All of his resources are invested in the Château, based on the premise that "the cost of production matters little when the goal is to produce the greatest possible wine on a consistent basis.”
 
 
Listening to him talk, Vauthier is clearly a competitive but disciplined man of action. All of which serves him well in the pursuit of his goals and his constant search for potential "stumbling blocks" in either the vineyard or the winery that could hinder his quest for perfection ... "There is still room for improvement because I think the best ever Ausone wine was produced by my great-grandfather in the early 20th century." A classic example of Vauthier’s humility!

Cabernet Franc, the grape most historically associated with
Saint-Émilion, makes up the 55% majority of the Château Ausone grape variety, with Merlot Franc making up the remaining 45%.
 
It’s the Cabernet Franc, however, that lends the wine its longevity, complexity and purity and the Ausone 2008 that we sampled from the barrel (9 months prior to bottling) was hugely impressive. A complex, mineral wine with genuine vibrancy, depth and charm.
 
 
Château Ausone
 

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