Ausone, Château

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Ausone, Château, minuscule but exceptionally fine estate on the edge of the town of st-émilion. It was named in 1781 after the Roman poet Ausonius who certainly had a vineyard in the Gironde, but probably one facing the River garonne rather than in St-Émilion. Recorded in the 1868 Cocks et Féret’s Bordeaux et ses vins (see literature of wine) as belonging to M. Cantenats, it then passed to a nephew, M. Lafargue, and then to his nephew, Edouard Dubois-Challon, who raised the reputation of the château to the leading position in St-Émilion up to the 1920s, when it was challenged by Ch cheval-blanc, the only other château to be ranked ‘A’ in the official classification of St-Émilion in 1955. From 1939 to the mid 1970s, Ausone was not, with a few exceptional vintages, producing wines of the longevity of their 19th-century predecessors, although there was a marked improvement after the arrival of a new régisseur, Pascal Delbeck, in 1976. Until the late 1990s, 50% was owned by Mme Dubois-Challon, widow of Edouard, and 50% by Alain Vauthier, who married Edouard’s daughter Cécile, an unsatisfactory arrangement which ended with Vauthier taking control of, and completely renovating, the extraordinary cellars in limestone caves originally excavated to provide stone for building the town. The wine itself has also been dramatically modernized, and the vineyard recuperated.