With pride Alain showed me his newest purchase: to keep the grapes as fresh as possible during the harvest, he bought very expensive stainless steel cooling tanks which he can have driven into the vineyards. The picked grapes are kept cool while being transported to the wine cellar and there, they don’t use a pump like in most wine chateaus but a pricy lift system that brings the grapes into the cuve from the top.

During a dinner (with an excellent bottle of Lynch Moussas 2000) I spoke about it with our communal wine maker Michel Rolland. ‘All those expenses! Would you really taste that?'
A knowing smile appeared on Rolland’s face: ‘Oh well, it’s more about keeping the 'fantasme', the 'mythe' alive. Wine needs to have a story.’ He takes a sip of the Lynch Moussas, tasted it carefully and added pensively: 'Moreover, Alain can afford it…'

That’s right, because unlike us, Alain sells his wine ‘en primeur’. A system by which the wine is sold only a few months after the harvest. This year is no different: in April Alain’s millésime 2009, which still needs to age at least six months in the barrel before it can be bottled, is sold out for the whopping price of 750 euros a bottle. And was probably sold on the same day for 1000 euros a bottle.

Which means that when it enters the market it should cost around 1500 euros a bottle. So his wine is 1500 euro good. Our wine is about 15 euro good, so that makes Alain’s wine 100 times better than ours.

One week later Michel Rolland was standing in our doorway; a bottle of Alain’s wine in hand: ‘Up for a blind tasting?’
That afternoon we tasted Alain’s 2009 along with our own 2009. It was impossible to make a comparison, because our cepage-ratio is 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc and Alain’s wine is 55% Cabernet Franc and 45% Merlot. But sadly I have to admit that it was clear as day: Alain’s wine was smoother, better and tastier. Much tastier. But not a hundred times tastier; so we’re going to start saving for stainless steel cooling tanks.

Order a case?
Château Ausone, Premier Grand Cru Classé A Alain Vauthier, 3330 Saint-Émilion T +33 557 2424 57

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