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CHÂTEAU AUSONE

2013 1er Grand Cru Classé Saint Emilion Château Ausone

Colour Red
Origin France, Bordeaux
Sub-district Saint Emilion & Satellites
Village Saint Emilion
Classification 1er Grand Cru Classé

Dark and dumb with a little spice on the nose. Attack is again dense and fine, furred with tannins full of black fruit flavour and a kind of enlivening, dancing acidity. Lots of fruit and savour depth. Mouthcoating, it remains on the border of pleasant austerity. The finish is full of blueberry fruit, dry and savoury. A wine with serious depth for the medium to long-term. 2022-2035 Rating: 93++? L&S (Apr 2014)

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Probably the wine of the vintage, once again. Only 9,000 bottles of the 2013 Ausone were produced, as crop size was 50% of normal. However, proprietor Alain Vauthier and his daughter certainly have proven a truly great wine can be produced in some of the most trying conditions Bordeaux wine producers have had to deal with over the last 20 years. Yields were only 22 hectoliters per hectare and the final blend was 55% Cabernet Franc and 45% Merlot. The haunting aromas of wet rocks, spring flowers, blue and black fruits and forest floor are followed by an incredibly dense, attractive wine with sweet tannin, stunning concentration and texture, medium body and a depth that is essentially unreal in a vintage such as this. The wine is a superb example of great winemaking under the most difficult circumstances. Unlike more recent Ausones, this should be reasonably drinkable in 5-6 years and yet be capable of lasting 25-30. 2019-2049 Rating: 93-95 Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate, www.RobertParker.com(Aug 2014)

(55% cabernet franc and 45% merlot; represents production of 22 hectoliters per hectare): Bright red-ruby. Spicy pepper and oak notes dominate reticent strawberry, cedar and green coffee bean aromas. Gains in richness and density with aeration, with red fruit flavors picking up more sweetness and volume. Finishes bright and very lively, with strong but harmonious acidity giving it a light touch, although the youthfully chewy tannins betray a hint of greenness at the back. A very different Ausone from some of the powerfully structured behemoths of recent vintages. Rating: 89-92 Ian d'Agata - Stephen Tanzer website(May 2014)

Cabernet Franc 55% Merlot 45% There is a lovely spicy mix of flavours on the nose all very black fruit in character. Rich and ripe fruited the palate has a fleshy richness depth of fruit with fine tannins a lovely balance. There is weight of fruit richness on the back palate yet a more refined elegant feel on the spicy finish. 2018-2030. Rating: 91-94 Derek Smedley MW, www.dereksmedleymw.co.uk(May 2014)

For Ausone, which can be closed and compact in its youth, this is an appealingly forward wine. But the subtle use of oak, fine tannins and fruit weight, even in a lesser year, are typical of the château. The freshness and grassiness of the 55% Cabernet Franc make a significant contribution to the balance of the wine. 2018-26 Rating: 94 Tim Atkin MW, www.timatkin.com(May 2014)

(55 Merlot, 45 Cabernet Franc) 85% new oak, 9000 bottles, 22 hl/ha. Quite marked by oak and while richer and fruitier than the second wine Chapelle this is a very tight and closed Ausone on the finish. It’s also a little greener and more sour and firm than expected in this vintage. When it all settles down this will be a delicate, long-lived Ausone with grace and slender, floral fruit as opposed to a powerhouse. A typical but classical and composed. I like this shape of wine enormously and a committed collector should not swerve this vintage because it offers another facet in the glittering Ausone firmament. Rating: 18+ Matthew Jukes www.matthewjukes.com(Apr 2014)

Deep blackcurrant fruit, supple tannins on the palate that grip the finish. A smidgen more concentration than their Chapelle, but it doesn’t scale the heights that you might hope for. That’s not to say it isn’t good – it is very delicious – but the quality is constrained by the vintage. (RH) Drink 2019-2033. Rating: 17.5 Richard Hemming MW - www.JancisRobinson.com(Apr 2014)

Follows the style of 2012. Accent on the fruit. Pure, elegant and digestible. Less density than top years but long, fine tannins for ageing. Drink: 2020-2038. Rating: 17.75 James Lawther MW, decanter.com(Apr 2014)

The Ausone 2013 is a blend of 55% Cabernet Franc and 45% Merlot, picked from 2 to 6 October. Pauline Vauthier told me that the 10 days in July burnt away the pyrazine notes however, there is just half the usual production at 9,000 bottles. Interestingly, the Merlot character comes through more prominently on the nose that feels just a little monochromatic compared to recent vintages. The palate is medium-bodied with a fleshy entry, the acidity (pH 3.55) noticeable. The finish has a citrus freshness, not as complex as recent vintages but showing admirable persistency. This is a commendable effort in the context of the vintage. Rating: 91-93 Neal Martin, www.robertparker.com(Apr 2014)

A balanced red for the vintage with a solid core of fruit and a dense palate. Silky tannins and stylish character. Full body with a outstanding intensity and finesse for the vintage. Hazelnut and minerals. Half the normal production. Rating: 91-92 James Suckling, www.jamessuckling.com(Apr 2014)

Château Ausone

Unquestionably one of the biggest names of the Right Bank, this is also one of the oldest chateaux in the whole of Bordeaux. Situated at the edge of the limestone plateau on the approach to the village of Saint Emilion, at an altitude of 75 metres, Ausone dominates your view as you drive in to the village, with its beautiful stone gateposts, steeply sloping vineyards, and dry stone walls. Underneath the chateau are kilometre upon kilometre of stone quarries, the smallest of which (at 1,800m2) is the wine cellar. This was excavated back in the 16th century (most of the stone in Saint Emilion ended up building either the village itself, or the handsome limestone buildings in central Bordeaux). Further underground are stone vaults dating back 500 years! The humidity in the cellars is at well over 90%, meaning that they rarely have to perfrom ouillage (topping up), and the angel's rarely get their share! Above ground there is also the Magdeleine chapel (hence the name of the second wine of the estate, Chapelle d'Ausone), which again adds to the sense of mystique on visiting Ausone. They are currently renovating the chapel, and also creating a small room for receiving visitors (although don't hold your breath that this will ever be a centre for wine tourism - the Vaultier family are very discreet, and it is tough to get an appointment here). One of the smallest of all the top estates in Bordeaux, at just over seven hectares (smaller than its Saint Emilion rival Cheval Blanc, smaller even than Petrus in neighbouring Pomerol, but twice the size of le Pin), vines have been cultivated here since the time of Roman poet Ausonius. I'm not sure anyone is suggesting that Ausonius actually owned this vineyard, but it is likely to have been named in his honour.

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