Château Ausone is a Bordeaux wine from Saint Emilion appellation, one of only two wines, along with Château Cheval Blanc, to be ranked Premier Grand Cru Classé (A) in the Classification of Saint-Émilion wine. The winery is located on the Right Bank of France’s Bordeaux wine region in the Gironde department, close to the town of Saint-Émilion.
Chateau Ausone has vineyards of 7.3 hectares (just under 18 acres) with an average age of the vines of 50 years. The planting of the vineyards is 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Franc. The vines are planted with a density of 6,000 plants per hectare. The vineyards are on rather steep slopes facing to the South. The slopes give perfect drainage but also bring some problems with erosion of the soil. The Southern exposure is ideal for ripening of the grapes. The soil and sub-soil of Chateau Ausone's vineyards are limestone. The soil characteristics of Ausone's vineyards are consistent through the entire property. The entire production is harvested by hand.
There are 2,000 cases of Chateau Ausone produced each year, on average. The fermentation takes from 21 to 35 days. The aging is always in 100% new barrels each year. The wines are barrel aged for at least 18 months (and sometimes nearly 2 years depending on the vintage) before bottling. During the barrel aging period, the wine is moved from barrel to barrel (racked) to remove sediment every 3 months. The wines are usually fine (clarified) with egg whites but left unfiltered before bottling. The Chateau has extensive caves in the limestone under the property.
With the influence of Michel Rolland beginning in 1995, the wines have started showing a great deal more fruit and extract in their youth. It remains to be seen how this will affect the aging that has been the hallmark of the wines from Ausone.
Chateau Ausone is a very old property with medieval historical significance. In it's more recent history, the wines from the chateau suffered from lower quality and a lessened reputation in the middle of the 20th century. Ausone began to return to it's historical position of greatness with the hiring of Pascal Delbeck in the 1970s. Delbeck was in charge of Ausone beginning with the 1976 vintage. As of 1995, he no longer played a role in the winemaking but remained in charge of the vineyards.
The property had been owned for generations by a partnership of the Dubois-Challon family and the Vauthier family. In the mid 1990s, the Vauthier family gained sole ownership of Chateau Ausone. Alain Vauthier controls all aspects of the winemaking. He began using Michel Rolland as the consulting wine-maker beginning with the 1995 vintage.
The wines of Chateau Ausone are very powerful for a Saint Emilion. They generally require cellaring for at least 10 years to reach maturity and will often improve until 20 years from the year of the harvest. In their youth, these wines can be very tannic. As they age, the flavors of currant, raspberry and black cherry begin to come forward along with hints of spice. Some of the library wines that are nearly a century old still possess charm and a surprising youthfulness.