Ausone owes its unique quality and longevity to a magic marriage of situation and soil. The steep slopes of the vineyard are arranged like an amphitheatre, facing southeast, which gives perfect exposure and maximum protection, and the soil is a mixture of clay and sand on limestone. When old vines and the ability to pick the entire vineyard quickly, due to the small size, are added to the recipe the result is something special. Ausone grows in bottle in a highly individual way, expanding and becoming more ample, although always retaining its scent and finesse.
Ausone has only 7.3 hectares of vines and its vineyards (Merlot 50%, Cabernet Franc 50%) flourish on a steep, south-east facing slope, protecting them from cold north winds and westerly rain. Those vines at the top of the slope thrive on limestone (the `St.Emilion plateau') whilst those further down benefit from a clay/loam topsoil (the 'Côtes').
Ausone struggled during the 1950s and 1960s, but with the hiring of new régisseur Pascal Delbeck in 1976, the estate returned to producing wines worthy of its outstanding historic reputation. Recently Ausone has been at the very peak of its form and with the ubiquitous Michel Rolland now acting as consultant, it is now producing ultra-rich, lush, exotically fruity wines that require a minimum 10 years of bottle ageing.
History Château Ausone is a very old property with medieval historical significance. In it's more recent history, the wines from the château suffered from lower quality and a lessened reputation in the middle of the 20th century. Ausone began to return to it's historical positon of greatness with the hiring of Pascal Delbeck in the 1970's. 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 1990's, the Vauthier family gained sole ownership of Château Ausone. Alain Vauthier controls all aspects of the winemaking. He began using Michel Rolland as the consulting wine-maker beginning with the 1995 vintage
As with the 1950, the 1952 also suffered from harsh tannins as a juvenile. After a long bottle maturation, this vintage has turned out to be an excellent find. The warm spring and early summer resulted in ideal germination. The hot and dry season lasted until September, which brought with it colder temperatures and rain. This change in weather dashed the hopes for what originally seemed to be an excellent crop year. Conversely, the rains did away with any fear of overly concentrated grapes. Weather conditions at the end of the year had a pronounced effect on the slower-maturing Cabernets. Consequently, the Médoc region suffered the greatest.
The Merlot-driven Pomerol and Saint-Émilion wines were able to mature very well; indeed, the finest wines of that year come from the right bank. Some excellent wines were also produced at Graves. Because the highly tannic character of Médoc wines has softened over the decades, the wines are extraordinarily drinkable right now. The finest examples could do with additional cellaring. Château Lafleur and La-Mission-Haut-Brion are the finest wines of this vintage. The château-bottled Pétrus, Trotanoy and Ausone run a very close second.