Annual Production (Grand Vin)
The site of Château Ausone has been planted with vines for hundreds of years and was cultivated by Roman poet Ausonious in the 4th Century.
Though the legal wrangles of the Vaulthier and Dubois-Challon families may have detracted the focus from the wine produced at Ausone in the late 20th century, it remains a big-hitter in the Bordeaux region among the top eight brands in the region as named by Liv-ex.
A few years of interfamilial disputes are a blip in the broader picture of a rich history of viticulture on this site which dates back to Roman Europe. Indeed, Château Ausone has been at the top of the tree ever since the St Émilion Classification in 1955 which named it a Premier Grand Cru Classe- a ranking which has remained unchanged for over half a century.
The perfectionism of Alain Vaulthier and his understanding of the chateau’s unique terroir- clay and limestone on sand on steep, south-facing slopes have been a godsend to its fortunes.
The quality of wine from Chateau Ausone in recent years is doubted by no one. In his provisional scores for the 2011 Bordeaux vintages, Ausone’s was the sole wine awarded 100 point potential by Robert Parker, with a range from 96-100 points- placing it a good way ahead of Lafite. The 2009 is a particularly valuable vintage, highly in demand, with the small release size characteristic of Ausone driving up prices.
Fewer than 1200 cases are currently in existence and the vintage is retailing at around twice as much as 2006-8 vintages. The wines themselves are of a powerful character, generally requiring cellaring for 10 years and improving for up to 20 years after harvest date. An alternative opportunity for investment is the 2005, a singular, unique wine of which Robert Parker has said “a masterpiece of concentration and balance, it will no doubt be drinking well a century from now”.
Named for Ausonius, the ancient poet and statesman on whose villa the foundations are said to have been built, Château Ausone has a history of family feuding which has sometimes detracted from the success of its wine. In the 1800s, it began to climb the rankings of the St Émilion classification, gradually outclassing its rivals in the region under the stewardship of the Canterat family.
The château ought to have passed onto Cécile Dubois-Challon in 1974 after the death of her older brother who would have been heir, but it instead passed to his widow- the childless Heylette. She appointed Pascal Delbeck winemaker and the quality of wine fell into decline.
Officially Heylette Dubois-Challon and the Vaulthier family - which the ‘rightful’ heir Cécile had married into - owned the Ausone estate jointly, alongside Chateau Bel Air. But there was much acrimony and grief between the two parties and agreements concerning the running of the estate were impossible to reach, with the spat not to be settled until a series of high-profile court cases in the 1990s.
With money being funnelled towards lawyers rather than being invested in the vinyards, quality continued to suffer. Heylette tired of Ausone and after one final series of court battles the château fell into the hands of Alain Vaulthier- grandson of Cécile. Finally, with full control over the estate, Alain has pushed the quality of Ausone back up year by year by exploiting the fabulous potential of small-but-perfectly-formed estate.