One of the handful of candidates for wine of the vintage is the 2006 Ausone. In fact, while tasting it, I was thinking, is there any estate in Bordeaux that, since 1998, has made as many legendary wines as proprietor Alain Vauthier has at his beloved Ausone? Boasting an inky/blue/purple color as well as an extraordinary, precise bouquet of minerals, flowers, blueberry liqueur, and black currants, this wine possesses fabulous fruit and great intensity, but what makes it so special is its precision, focus, and almost ethereal lightness despite substantial flavor intensity and depth. It is a ballerina with density and power. The abundant noticeable tannin is sweet and, not surprisingly, very finely grained. It should be cellared for a decade, and consumed over the following half century.
Strength and elegance go together in this wine. It has a pure line of clear berry fruits that float above the tannic core. It is not so much rich as dense, the tannins a vivid counterpoint to the fruit. The wine finishes with fine, elegant sweetness, but it is the purity of line that stays in the memory. Age for 10 years at least.
Located on the hillsides of St.-Emilion, Château Ausone’s production is almost boutique, totaling just over 2000 cases per annum with little emphasis on export, making it difficult to find their wines commercially and internationally. The scarcity and desirability of Château Ausone lands the wines in third place for the most expensive Bordelais houses, after Petrus and Le Pin. In the 1990s the Vauthier and Dubois-Challon families began to argue over the philosophy of winemaking resulting in a buyout of the Dubois-Challon family, and the hiring of winemaker Alain Vauthier with world renowned consultant Michel Rolland at his side. The new ownership resulted in a later harvest (weather permitting), malolactic fermentation in barrel, and the introduction of a second wine called Chapelle d’Ausone. Today Ausone is one of only four wines ranked Premier Grand Cru Classe (A) of the St. Emilion wine classification.
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