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1996 Ausone

1996 Ausone

94 RP


From the critics:

93 RP

92 VM

92 WS

Critic Reviews

I do not understand the critics of Alain Vautier, who now has sole control of Ausone and is taking the estate’s quality to a higher level. Moreover, the wine is consistent, with great depth and richness on the mid-palate, without sacrificing Ausone’s 40-50+ years of longevity. As I suspected, the 1996 is beginning to shut down. I left it in the glass for nearly 30 minutes and was impressed with the nuances that developed. The color is a dense ruby/black/purple. Reluctant aromas of blueberries, blackberries, minerals, flowers, truffles, and subtle new oak eventually emerge. Elegant on the attack, with sweet ripeness, and a delicate, concentrated richness, the hallmark of this wine is subtlety rather than flamboyance. A sweet mid-palate sets it apart from many of the uninspiring Ausones of the eighties and seventies. The wine is stylish, and presently understated, with tremendous aging potential. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2040.

Robert Parker | 93 RP
The 1996 Ausone is a vintage that I have tasted on four or five occasions. This was similar to previous examples with a very floral and outgoing bouquet, those wilted violet petals infusing the boysenberry and blueberry fruit, quite glossy in style, one of the most modern of that decade. It certainly has more intensity than earlier vintages. The palate is medium-bodied with sweet and ripe tannin, impressive acidity and weight although it does not revel in the complexity of other vintages, perhaps because the growing season did not favour the Right Bank. There is a touch of headiness on the finish that is a little otiose but otherwise this is a thoroughly enjoyable Ausone. Tasted at the Ausone vertical in London.

Vinous Media | 92 VM
Complex aromas of blackberry, coffee, cedar and lightly grilled meat. Full-bodied and very structured, with silky tannins and a long, caressing finish. Slightly hollow center palate.--’95/’96 Bordeaux retrospective. Drink now.

Wine Spectator | 92 WS

Wine Details for 1996 Ausone

Type of Wine Bordeaux Red : Picture in your mind a combination of cedar, lead pencil, blackcurrant, plum and mineral aromatics, and texture that caresses your palate like a playful lover. The experience is thrilling from the first whiff to the final seconds of a tannic, generous finish - that is what you'll get from a Bordeaux Red
Varietal Red Bordeaux Blend : The inhabitants of the Bordeaux region of France have been cultivating wine-grapes for thousands of years. Ancient Roman ruins litter the vineyards from Saint Emilion to Graves where the art of blending Bordeaux varietals has been practiced and perfected over a very long history. Bordeaux’s climate, terroir and soils, though varied, provide the optimal growing conditions for the red grape varietals planted in the region.

Rarely listed on the labels as “blend,” the red wines of Bordeaux are perhaps the most artfully designed and celebrated in the world. The calculated art of blending the native Bordeaux varietals is impressively accomplished in the most famous winegrowing region in the world. The phrase Bordeaux Blend which seems to have been coined by British wine merchants in the 19th Century relates as much to wines made from the blend as to the grape variety combination itself.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and occasionally Carmenere are the lead characters in the creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. Each plays a part in their own fashion and implemented in various combinations and percentages in each appellation within Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux Blends are majorly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, roughly making up 90% of all Bordeaux Blends. Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec (occasionally Carmenere) are also important components and vital to the production of the region’s red wines.

For simplicity, the winegrowing region of Bordeaux can be divided into three main appellations producing Red Bordeaux Blends; the Left Bank (Medoc), Right Bank and Pessac-Leognan (Graves). The Left Bank has a terroir comprised of a wide variety of gravel, stones, sand, limestone and clay soils on a natural terrain of gentle slopes. This sets the stage perfectly for the production of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the dominant grape of the Left Bank. For example, Chateau Lafite (Paulliac) is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Right Bank is dominated by clay and limestone with sand and gravel, but the clay in the Right Bank is distinctly its own and adds to the health, growth and vitality of the vines of the varietals grown here. Right Bank wines are typically 80% Merlot-based, which are often denser, richer and mature earlier than those of the Left Bank (with exceptions – Petrus for example). Merlot is a vital component to Pomerol winegrowing and making. Cabernet Franc also plays a major role in the Right Bank, most notably, in Saint Emilion, where the infamous vineyards of Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc are planted to 55% and 52% Cabernet Franc, respectively. Chateaux that produce wines with a majority of Cabernet Franc are considered “old school” producers, but have perfected the use of Cabernet Franc, which was originally used as a blending grape.

Pessac-Leognan (Graves) enjoys a temperate climate, natural hygrometry influenced by the ocean, and has a terroir composed of gravelly soil over a clay subsoil on sloping, hilly terrain. Natural drainage due to the hilly terrain as well as the gravelly soil structure are perfectly attuned to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine, which prospers under these conditions. Pessac reaps the benefits of having the terroir of both the Left and Right Bank as it contains gravel and clay. The clay sub-soil allows the growth and success of Merlot, as well as Cabernet Franc. It is home to the only First Growth not in the Medoc. The 50-hectare vineyard of Haut Brion is planted to 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.

The percentage of Petit Verdot and Malbec may be lesser in quantity, but not in quality. They are vital to the region’s creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. The combination of Bordeaux varietals is legendary in the region, around the world and has influenced winegrowers worldwide to plant and vinify wines which resemble those of Red Bordeaux Blends.

Country France : Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.

For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.

France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.

France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.

Region Bordeaux : Even among the greatest and most reputable wine regions on the planet, Bordeaux stands above the rest. The winemakers of this region have a single-minded dedication to the fine art of viticulture and their efforts never fail to show. If you consider yourself a fine wine enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to visit Bordeaux - life changing. Whether you wish to drink some inspirational and gripping wine as soon as possible, or you want to add some masterpieces to your collection, no region on Earth is a more obvious choice.

The noble and beautiful Garonne and Dordogne rivers surge through southwestern France, enriching the soil in a way very few other places can boast. The limestone-based earth is rich in calcium, and the almost oceanic climate conditions give the staple Bordeaux grape varietals vigor and flavor like nowhere else. For their illustrious reds, Bordeaux winemakers rely on a proven combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Meanwhile, a sip of their excellent white wine hints at the use of Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc.Each of these varietals carries a unique identity, making every quality wine a character piece to rival Citizen Kane. It can be incredibly hard to choose only a few wines to collect for your cellar!
Subregion Right Bank
Appellation Saint Emilion


Producer Chateau Ausone : There is something poetic about Chateau Ausone; from the natural amphitheater where the vines rest sheltered from severe elements, to its rich and illustrious history, to the very wine itself that seems to sing an unrivaled tune of greatness. Perhaps it is because the name is derived from Decimus Magnus Ausonius, a Roman poet born in Bordeaux in 310AD and considered one of the greatest of his time.

It is speculated that this historic property dates back to the time of Ausonius and that his original villa once resided here. The poet and winegrower’s imposing estate, Lucaniacum whose wine was extolled of in his poetic oratory has left significant signs of his once dominating presence at Ausone. Agricultural implements, mosaics depicting vines and fragments of statues have been found in the deep limestone caverns under the Chateau which is now the fermenting and aging location for Ausone’s wines. The family who owns this magnificent property today, insists this was the nascent of a 2,000 year history of cultivation of one of the greatest wines in the world.

Unlike most estates in Bordeaux, Ausone has remained a family affair, and has seen only three family ownerships in its long and memorable history. Very few properties have the luxury of not having to play musical chairs in regards to ownership or control. Today, the estate rests faithfully in the hands of the Vauthier family, who credit as much of Ausone’s success to its deep history as it does to the fortunate location of its vines. While many estates were hard-hit by devastating ice storms over the years, Ausone enjoyed astonishing immunity. Though, the Vauthiers insist it was good fortune and not entitlement.

Nature concentrates its gifts in favor of the wine here at Ausone, where 7 hectares of vines are spread across small terraces. Surrounded by stone, the parcels are sheltered by the wind, while enjoying generous sunshine from South-Eastern exposure and the perfect amount of shade in the afternoon. The proximity of the Dordogne and Isle rivers meet nearby and assist with creating the ideal microclimate, ensuring growth of the finest fruit in the Right Bank.

A portion of vines that grow on the plateau are made up of asteriated limestone, where their roots seek out a modicum of energy in the rock. On the hill, the vines anchor themselves in limestone with clay soil; the clay provides a welcoming amount of moisture when drought conditions prevail. The growing conditions are so accommodating for optimal balance that the land is coveted by many growers not only in the Right Bank, but in all of Bordeaux. Many producers enviously claim that Ausone is in possession of the greatest terroir in all of Bordeaux.

Chateau Ausone is the jewel of the estate which exudes the power and mineral profile of its main varietal, Cabernet Franc. The Cab Franc vines are some of the oldest in St. Emilion, with some being more than 100 years of age. Merlot is the second component helping to round out the wine with a pure and chiseled structure allowing finesse and freshness to linger long on the palate, finishing with exquisite balance; a monumental wine of subtle elegance. A second wine is fashioned at the estate which is crafted similarly to its elder sibling. However, where the flagship vines are on average fifty years old, the vines used to produce Chapelle d’Ausone are cultivated in younger sections which will later on be use for its flagship. Chapelle d’Ausone is comprised of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and is mingled with the slightest amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. Ausone’s hallmark taste is omnipresent, with its elegance and passionate display of varietals. Yields are kept extremely low, producing a mere 1,500 cases, in the best vintages. Chateau Ausone is highly sought after; its prestige, and limited accessibility, has made this nearly mythical wine quite elusive on today’s market.

When collectors look to Chateau Ausone, they may see its investment potential. Enthusiast may see an ethereal wine that should be celebrated with family and friends at the best of times. But, to the ones farming this historic and prestigious property, with purple hands that carefully tend to the vines and fruit, their eyes reflect pride, gratitude and good fortune. Two thousand years of cultivation in a prime ecosystem has not only placed Ausone in league with the greatest wines in the world, but also secured its place in history.

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