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Online With Pauline & Edouard Vauthier: 2012 Château Simard, 2012 Château Ausone, 2012 Chapelle d’Ausone

March 12, 2021

The good guys at The Vintage Club, Singapore, kindly extended an invitation to me to attend a tasting across Zoom of the 2012 wines of the Vauthier family on 10 March 2021 with Pauline and Eduoard Vauthier, the current proprietors. I’ve had the privilege of visiting Château Ausone twice, in 2016 (hosted by Pauline) and 2019 (hosted by her brother Edouard) and it was really good to have a live meet-up with these two wonderful persons again. For many, myself included, Château Ausone represents the pinnacle of Saint-Ëmilion. Located at a high point just south of the village overlooking the King’s Tower, only 18,000-24,000 bottles of Château Ausone are produced annually from just 7 hectares of vines planted on a mixture of limestone and clay soils at a density of 12,000 vines per hectare. Even fewer of its second label, the Chapelle d’Ausone, are produced, only some 5,000-9,000 bottles annually, thus accounting for the relative scarcity of Ausone on the secondary market. The estate has adopted organic viticultural techniques since 2005, becoming fully certified in 2020.  There is more cabernet franc at 70% with the remainder merlot although in bottle, the blend is usually about 60-40 proportion. The average age of the vines is 60 years with the oldest being planted in 1906 (cabernet franc). The château avoids pumping, preferring to move the wine into fermentation vats via gravity.

Pauline & Edouard Vauthier over Zoom

Any visit to Château Ausone would usually include a tasting of Château Simard, an estate formerly belonging to a relative which has been incorporated into the Vauthier portfolio since 2007. Made from 75% cabernet franc (which ripens well in today’s warmer climate) and 25% merlot grown on sandy soils with some clay and vinified largely in concrete vats, this wine is clearly made for early drinking. The 2012 Château Simard, harvested especially late in October 2012, shows up as dusty crimson with red plums and ripe dark berries amid earthy tones on the nose, developing an effusive rosy fragrance over time with lovely characters of wild flowers in bloom. Rather softly rounded on the palate with fruit that is set a little backward with a dash of vegetal tinge, structured with silky smooth tannins and fine acidity. Drinking well.

Edouard Vauthier aspirating the 2018 grand vin from barrel (June 2019)

The 2012 Chapelle d’Ausone, a blend of 60% cabernet franc, 25% merlot and 15% cabernet sauvignon from younger vines aged about 15 years vinified in lightly toasted new oak for 20 months, appears rather opaque with some bricking. Shy at first, this wine proffers only glimpses of dark roses, haw and summer fragrance though eventually growing in confidence, exuding a distinct feminine glow that is very correct. The medium-full palate is rather brightly lit with a predominance of red fruits, very sleek and rounded with seamlessly integrated acidity that imparted good verve and balance, finishing well.

In comparison, the 2012 Château Ausone, showing a deep garnet red, is equally shy, allowing only glimpses of floral fragrance with a touch of vanillin, taking its time to develop a gentle glow of wild berries and haw, becoming more dimensional on the nose. The medium-bodied palate is imbued with very good presence of red fruits and currants that exude a certain warmth, greatly enhanced by the superb balance between the fruit and minerally elements, seamlessly integrated with well-resolved tannins and fine acidity, finishing with excellent linearity and persistence. Not showy at all. Clearly a wine that would reward further cellaring patience even as it is approaching its drinking window.

Many thanks again, Pauline and Edouard and Vintage, for your time and the privilege. Merci!

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