Within the Saint Emilion appellation, Château Ausone is one of only two wines (the other being Château Cheval Blanc), to be ranked as Premier Grand Cru Classé (A) in the Classification of Saint-Émilion wine. The winery is located on the right bank of the Bordeaux wine region in the Gironde department.
Placed on the western edge of 11th century village Saint-Émilion, with elevated vineyards facing south on steep terraces in ideal situation, Ausone takes its name from Decimus Magnus Ausonius (310-395 CE), a statesman and poet from Bordeaux who owned about 100 acres (0.40 km²) of vineyard and it is believed by some that Château Ausone stands upon the foundations of his villa.
For several years, Ausone was jointly owned by the Dubois-Challon and Vauthier families, but after a period of unsettlement, feuding in the courts was brought to an end when the Vauthiers bought the Dubois-Challon shares in the mid 1990s. Alain Vauthier became managing director of Ausone, while Heylette Dubois-Challon won the right to continue to live in the chateau until her death, in 2003.
Michel Rolland was appointed consultant oenologist in 1995. The winery also produces a second wine named Chapelle d'Ausone.
The success of the wine produced at Ausone is attributed to a combination of exposure and the soil, a mixture of sand and clay on limestone unique to the district. The vineyard is 7 hectares (17 acres), arranged with the grape varieties of 50% Cabernet Franc and 50% Merlot, planted with a density of 6,500 plants per hectare. Due to the small scale of the vineyards, picking may be done at an optimal moment, usually in two afternoons.
Of both the Grand Vin and the second wine - Chapelle d'Ausone - the annual production averages little more than 2,000 cases.
Château de Fonbel [Saint-Emilion Grand Cru] is owned by Alain Vauthier (owners of Château Ausone) and the attention to detail here is to creat a classy and affordable Saint-Emilion, sourced from 20-year-old vines directly below the Ausone vineyards.