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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
Bordeaux Vintage Report 2005 is a truly fantastic vintage with great quality across the board on both the Left and Right Banks.
The 2005 vintage became the most expected since 2000. The en primeur market was heated, and prices skyrocketed. The cold winter delayed the bud break before the hot ans dunny spring broke up. Even vegetative growth and flowering gave a perfect start to the vintage. The summer turned out to be one of the driest ever which was avoiding disaster since the weather remained reasonably warm not excessively hot as in 2003. The soil is again becoming a decisive quality factor. Gravelly areas, such as Graves, were worst affected once more. In other words, top wines are to be expected.
For short term perspective, in the next couple of years, an excellent amount of mature red Bordeaux wines will be available in the market. The vintages 2004, 2002, 1999, 1994, 1992 and 1988 offer a wide selection of enjoyable wines to be consumed immediately or at most to be stored for a short period.
As investments, the best vintages from the past 35 years are 2003, 1996, 1989, 1986 and 1982. The most certain long-term investments are Latour, La Mission Haut-Brion, Haut-Brion, Le Pin and Pétrus.
In the last 35 years, Bordeaux has undergone a substantial change in winemaking. Modern equipment and developing know-how have guaranteed more even quality. It seems that the next challenge will be handling the extreme climates including slowly global warming, which has already given hints of its effects also in Bordeaux. It is impossible to say how the Bordeaux wines will change in the next 35 years. We can only hope that their most characteristic feature, elegant aristocratic nature highlighted by unique terroir, will never fade away.