Ausone is undoubtedly one of the legendary properties in Bordeaux, its reputation supported as much by its rarity as by the exceptional quality of its wines. In 1996, the 7-hectare vineyard and its elegant chateau, which stands guard above the main approach to St Emilion from the valley of the Dordogne River, were bought in full by Alain Vauthier. His family had previously shared ownership with the Dubois-Challon family, and the arrangement had not been a happy one for the wines. For the last decade quality has been on the up and up, the chateau is nearing completion of a lengthy and extensive renovation and the goals of the quiet but devoted M. Vauthier are one by one being achieved, with considerale help from regisseur Pascal Delbeck. A sensational run of successes from 2000 onwards has whipped up international interest in this property which, for a while in the 1980s, had managed to retain a band of devout followers without igniting much broader demand. The vineyards are planted with 50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Franc and have an average age of 50 years old. Harvest is manual and the wine is aged in 100% new oak for 18 months on average. Ausone offers ultra ripe fruit, huge richness, thick-set tannins in its youth and is generally one of the more powerful and ageworthy St Emilions. Production is limited to no more than 2000 cases.