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Chateau Ausone 1999

Bordeaux Red Blends from St. Emilion, Bordeaux, France
  • RP95
  • WS94
0% ABV
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Winemaker Notes

Chateau Ausone is St. Emilions superstar, the quality equivalent of a Médoc first growth. Dense, rich, subtle and yet not heavy, it is one of the longest-lived, most elegant and concentrated Bordeaux wines.

Chateau Ausone is known for elegance, finesse, and extraordinary personality and concentration. Its fascinatingly complex aromatics (of characteristic crushed stone and minerals accompanied by black currants, plums and licorice) are evenly matched by intense -- but not heavy - flavors in great balance. It is more tannic than the average St. Emilion, and may need several years of aging before it is at its most approachable. Its plateau of maturity is 15-50 years following the vintage.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 95
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Is the 1999 Ausone the wine of the vintage? Dense purple color, a compelling bouquet of licorice, minerals, black and blueberry liqueur, extraordinary delineation, high tannin, superb extract, and phenomenal richness all are the stuff of a legend. This wine seems impossible to have emerged from a vintage like 1999. Proprietor Alain Vauthier produced only 20,000 bottles because he eliminated one-fourth of the tiny crop. The result is out-and-out fabulous, but the wine needs 12-15 years of cellaring. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2050.
WS 94
Wine Spectator
Offers opulent aromas of meat, toasty oak and ripe berries, almost roasted in character. Full-bodied, with chewy tannins, but a rich and dried fruit aftertaste. Shows lots of new wood. Amazing concentration here. Endless wine for the vintage.
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Chateau Ausone

Chateau Ausone

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Chateau Ausone, St. Emilion, Bordeaux, France
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The estate was founded by two families, the Chatonnets and the Cantenants. In more recent times, for two centuries, Château Ausone was the property of the Vauthier and the Dubois-Challon families. Today it belongs to Alain Vauthier and his sister Catherine, who bought their aunt Hélyette Dubois-Challon’s share in 1997. Alain Vauthier runs the estate and makes the wine. Since 2005 his daughter Pauline, a qualified oenologist, has been working with him.

The site is exceptional: divided between the limestone plateau and Saint-Emilion’s calcareous clay slope, facing east-south-east and sheltered on its north and west sides, Ausone was one of very few Saint-Emilions to come unscathed through the terrible frosts of February 1956. The 7 hectares of vineyard, lying in a single plot around the château, are planted with 55% of Cabernet Franc and 45% of Merlot. The vines are very old, with an average age of 50 years. Their low yield (33 hectolitres per hectare) in part explains the wine’s concentration and its potential for improving over time.

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St-Émilion

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Marked by its historic fortified village—perhaps the prettiest in all of Bordeaux, the St-Émilion appellation, along with its neighboring village of Pomerol, are leaders in quality on the Right Bank of Bordeaux. These Merlot-dominant red wines (complemented by various amounts of Cabernet Franc and/or Cabernet Sauvignon) remain some of the most admired and collected wines of the world.

St-Émilion has the longest history in wine production in Bordeaux—longer than the Left Bank—dating back to an 8th century monk named Saint Émilion who became a hermit in one of the many limestone caves scattered throughout the area.

Today St-Émilion is made up of hundreds of independent farmers dedicated to the same thing: growing Merlot and Cabernet Franc (and tiny amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon). While always roughly the same blend, the wines of St-Émilion vary considerably depending on the soil upon which they are grown—and the soils do vary considerably throughout the region.

The chateaux with the highest classification (Premier Grand Cru Classés) are on gravel-rich soils or steep, clay-limestone hillsides. There are only four given the highest rank, called Premier Grand Cru Classés A (Chateau Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Angélus, Pavie) and 14 are Premier Grand Cru Classés B. Much of the rest of the vineyards in the appellation are on flatter land where the soils are a mix of gravel, sand and alluvial matter.

Great wines from St-Émilion will be deep in color, and might have characteristics of blackberry liqueur, black raspberry, licorice, chocolate, grilled meat, earth or truffles. They will be bold, layered and lush.

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Bordeaux Blends

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One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde River, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.

In the Glass

Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux lean towards a highly structured and earthy style whereas New World areas (as in the ones named above) tend to produce bold and fruit-forward blends. Either way, Bordeaux red blends generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.

Perfect Pairings

Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb or smoked duck.

Sommelier Secret

While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.

JBK54491_1999 Item# 54491