Chateau Ausone, situated in the outskirts of the village of Saint Emilion, is one of the smaller, but most historic, estates in the area. The etymology of the estate’s name – moving from Casteau Dauzone to Château Dosone before evolving into Château Ausone – highlights the link to the Roman poet Ausonius, who owned over 100 acres of vineyards around Saint Emilion and whose villa was most likely located where Chateau Ausone stands today.
Since 1690 the Vauthier family have tended Chateau Ausone’s vineyards, and now the tenth and eleventh generation of wine growers, Alain and his eldest daughter Pauline, are continuing to oversee the estate. Alongside them, consultant oenologist Michel Rolland has been instrumental in keeping Chateau Ausone at the top of its Premier Grand Cru Classe (A) game. There are just over 7 hectares of vines, split between a majority of Cabernet Franc and a smaller proportion of Merlot. The vineyards are spread over a variety of soil, slope and aspect ranging from vineyards with asteriated limestone on the Saint Emilion plateau to plots further down in the ‘Cotes’ with clay and loam topsoils. The steep slopes on which the vines are planted are ideal for drainage and their aspects have proved to aid the vines in avoiding the worst of periods of extreme weather, including the infamous 1892 and 1956 winter frosts.The Vauthiers understand the importance of maintaining good soil quality and as such grow a variety of fruit trees and aromatic plants amongst the vines as well as preserving a diverse range of insects, birds and bats to help contribute to the soil’s health. By adopting methods inspired by organic and biodynamic processes, the Chateau is able to craft their wines in the gentlest way possible.
Ausone possesses a delicate and structured nose with rich concentrations of exotic fruit and a long finish. The wine requires significant ageing and good vintages will keep improving for decades. The demand for this wine that rivals Chateau Lafite for its delicacy is higher than ever. A very limited production of fewer than 2000 cases annually makes Chateau Ausone one of the most sought-after Saint Emilion wines. The estate’s Second Wine, Chapelle d’Ausone, is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes used to make this wine are from younger vines which, after having reached an average age of 50 years, will go on to produce the Chateau’s First Wine.