Though it has never been absolutely proven, Chateau Asone is rumoured to be the 4th century home of a Roman villa belonging to the classical poet Ausonius - and indeed, part of the estate does contain archaeological remains of a Roman villa. Needless to say, it’s a local estate of great pedigree and despite its incredibly lengthy history, it has only changed familial hands three times, culminating in the 17th century with the Dubois-Challon-Vauthier family, in whose descendents hands it remains today.
Widely regarded among Bordeaux winemakers to be home to some of the best terroir in the region and that terroir, along with the skilled hand of Alain Vauthier, have made it one of the best producers of Bordeaux wine in the world. Renowned for its unique flavour and rich, full-bodied minerality, the 2016 has been lauded for its “regal” yet “stunning and ethereal” character, and widely regarded as one of THE wines of this year’s vintage.
St.-Émilion is the star of Bordeaux’s Right Bank, north of the Dordogne River. The rich red wines produced in St.-Émilion, based on Merlot and Cabernet Franc, are less tannic and generally more fruit-driven in flavour than the Cabernet-based wines of Left Bank. Merlot thrives on the plateaus high above the Dordogne, where the soil is filled with sand and clay, a perfect medium for creating opulent, fruit-forward wines. With a typically savoury character, St.-Émilion wines are sometimes called the “Burgundies of Bordeaux.” These refined reds, with loads of finesse, are elegant companions to beef, chicken, pork and duck.
The wines of St.-Émilion were not included in the famous 1855 classification of Bordeaux, which ranked wines of the Left Bank. In 1955, St.-Émilion published its own classification, based on soil analysis, wine quality and reputation of the properties. Unlike the 1855 classification, St.-Emilion’s system requires properties to continuously prove themselves. The list is revised regularly, most recently in 2012. There are two tiers within the classification, Premier Grand Cru Classé and Grand Cru Classé. There are currently just 18 Premier Grand Cru properties and 64 Grand Cru Classé properties.
The St.-Émilion appellation is home to hundreds of individual producers, enhancing the variety of wines made there. Many of the properties remain small, family-run enterprises, unlike the large châteaux of the Left Bank. The area is also the base of France’s controversial micro-châteaux or garagiste wine movement; these innovative winemakers operate outside the traditional classification system, making very high quality (and very expensive) highly extracted wines.