Alain Vauthier has made massive improvements at Ausone since taking full control of the winemaking and management of his family property in 1997. The wines made here are now in a totally different league from those produced in the 1970's and 1980's. Ausone vies with Petrus and Cheval Blanc as the right bank's top Chateau. With production levels even less than those of Petrus, Ausone has become one of the most in demand and hard-to-find wines of Bordeaux. The 7 hectare vineyard has an average age of 53 years but some vines are over 100 years old. It is planted with 55% Cabernet Franc, 45% Merlot and production rarely exceeds 2000 cases. In 2018 the blend of the grand vin is 60% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot and after ageing in 100% new oak for 20 months the production will be 20,000 bottles.
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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. 2028 - 2068.
The 2018 Ausone, aged for 20 months in new French oak, was tasted over a period of 24 hours. It has a very intense nose featuring layers of black cherries and blueberry fruit; the violet element is initially even more expressive than when I tasted this from barrel, then gradually ebbs by the second day. As usual, this Ausone is no wallflower, coming across opulent yet succinctly controlled. The palate is medium-bodied with saturated tannins that frame the sumptuous black fruit, accompanied by touches of shaved truffle and clove. There is unerring symmetry to this Ausone. Precise and very persistent on the finish, which fans out wonderfully. A supremely gifted Saint-Émilion that will require several years in bottle. Drink 2024-2055.
Aromas of blackberry, black cherry, licorice, iodine and dried shitake mushroom. Opens and changes to violets and lavender. Full-bodied and tight with creamy and refined tannins that run the length of the wine and takes you down into the depth of the wine. Needs years to open yet it’s already so gorgeous to taste. Try after 2027.
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. 2028 - 2058
The 2018 Ausone was picked on 25 and 27 September with respect to the Merlot and the 3, 8 and 9 October for the Cabernet Franc at 35hL/ha. Aged for 20 months in new French oak barrels. This takes a long time to really open in the glass, eventually revealing intense black cherry and bilberry fruit, shucked oyster shells and touches of pressed violet. There is an exoticism here, yet it is behind several closed doors. The palate is medium-bodied with succulent ripe tannin, fine acidity, the alcohol nicely controlled at around 14.4% with a caressing, multi-layered peacock’s tail finish of truffle, black pepper and a touch of graphite. It is not the very greatest Ausone that I have tasted at this stage - it has stiff competition! But is a very gifted wine that expresses the DNA of Ausone, which is exactly what you want. 2022 - 2048
The 2018 Ausone is composed of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot. The Merlot was harvested September 25 and 27, and the Cabernet Franc was harvested October 3, 8 and 9. Deep purple-black in color, it is an impenetrable wall to begin, unrelenting without persistent coaxing, at last uncoiling to offer glimpses at preserved plums, blueberry coulis, molten licorice and underbrush with emerging scents of lavender, iron ore, crushed stones, charcoal and Indian spices plus a waft of red roses. Full-bodied, rich, decadent and tightly knit, it offers layer upon layer of fruit, spice and mineral nuances with a firm frame of exquisitely fine tannins and bold freshness, finishing with epic length and heart-stopping beauty.
This is really exotic with wild-fruit character that I have seldom encountered in Ausone. Full-bodied yet reserved and very tight. Amazing depth and purity of fruit. Incredible beauty. Sexy.
The 2018 Ausone is off the charts. Deep, sensual and mysterious, the 2018 is going to need many years to show the full breadth of its potential. And yet, there is so much there. Rich and concentrated on the palate, with phenomenal persistence, the 2018 is loaded with energy, tension and precision, offering a compelling interplay of opulence, saline intensity and structure. It is without question one of the wines of the vintage.
Black core with narrow purple rim. Intense, aromatic if slightly charry cassis. Very fine fruit – intense but surprisingly juicy and fresh. Rounded yet powerful. Chewy and with a great undertow of terrific, perfectly ripe fruit and there's a much clearer influence of Cabernet Franc here, with that freshness it brings. Just fresh enough but would show a lot better if the sample were cooler.
Deep in colour, with inky, ripe black fruit on the nose that is layered with incense, toasted almond and rich liquorice aromas. The palate is dense and powerful, with mouthfilling, fine tannins that coat the mouth with velveteen richness. The fruit is incredibly intense, with very dark and ripe cassis, blackberry and black cherry at the core. The power builds with the complexity - notes of roasted coffee and dark chocolate come in waves over the fruit, and the glossy texture is lifted by harmonious acidity. The finish is very long, bursting at the seams with fleshy black fruit and toasted spices. Very impressive, with great ageing potential for those with patience.
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.
Pauline Vauthier is the 11th generation of the family to be producing wine here. It's always such an incredible wine, and as ever you can see that they are playing a different game from so many others. The juice, the slate, the minerality, the drip-drip-drip of freshly squeezed berries, spice and barely-there tannins, the sapidity on the finish. Amazing!
Harvest ran from 25 September to 9 October. 3.6pH. 100% new oak.
Drinking Window 2028 - 2042
(60 Cabernet Franc, 40 Merlot) | 100% new oak for 20 months | Average vine age is 52 years old with a parcel close to the Chapel which are 110 years old. |The Merlot was harvested on the 25th and 27th September and the Cabernet Franc was harvested on the 3rd, 8th and 9th October. Extremely intense and incredibly perfumed, this is a very rich and power-packed Ausone and the fruit is almost impenetrable thanks to the density of the flavour. Deep crimson in colour and with immense spice and earth underpinning the majestic fruit, this is a frighteningly youthful wine and a vintage which one probably shouldn’t touch for thirty years. The nose gives away more about the wine than the palate, which is resolutely introverted, and it shows a glittering array of aromatics – fruit, spice, herb, flower and earth. One of the wines of the vintage, this is an anthem to Cabernet Franc and its awesome potential which was realised in 2018.