We boarded the Silversea’s Silver Whisper in Athens, to travel through the Black Sea to ports in the Ukraine and Turkey, ending in Istanbul. After settling in, we sat at one of the ship’s bars talking to the staff, and I looked over the wine list. I was quite surprised—many terrific wines were listed at very attractive prices—often times, well below retail. “Did you see, we cut many of the wine prices in half?” asked the maitre d’?
And there it was. Though not a glory-type vintage, the 1998 Chateau Ausone was listed at a price well below retail, and at a price not to be found on land. Having visited Chateau Ausone a few months ago, and tasted with Francois Mauss, Kelly Walker and Alain Vaultier, it seemed just the right wine to order. At dinner the first night, as the gleaming and seemingly moving lights of Athens shown out the window, we ordered the wine. It was decanted and served in Riedel Vinum Bordeaux glasses (one of the Riedel family was on the last cruise and had given presentations on the importance of stems in wine tasting).
Regarding the ’98 Ausone, the nose was absolutely captivating. Over the first hour, the wine changed dramatically. At first, the wine was a bit warm (it was about 32C in Athens) and there was some alcohol on the nose. “Let me take it down to about 14 degrees (centigrade)” offered the sommelier, and then the wine really began to shine. The alcohol on the nose was no longer present. Black fruits and cedar were there, and the wine began to show its layers of complexity. An hour or so into our evening, the nose remained captivating even as the wine seemed to close a bit. There became lots of plum on the nose, and the palate showed cedar, fruits and much complexity. The only drawback of the wine was some drying tannins on the finish. Still, the fireworks on the nose was terrific. As the wine continued to open in the glass, more cigar box and my notes say “very full on the nose” and the black fruits continued develop. Finally, some cherries and brambles mixed with the black and red fruits. The wine is now fully open, about 2 hours after opening. 94-96 points.
What could be more enjoyable than a bottle of Ausone on a Cruise through the Black Sea. I am very envious Wilfred.
I was very fortunate to attend a 27 year vertical of Ausone that included the 98 in December 07. It was the most tannic of the wines presented that date.
Here is the note from my tasting that was aided by Francois who secured all notes available at the Chateau to assist us in decanting the vertical of wines that began in the 20’s
This wine was deep dark purple in color. The nose, while slightly subdued, offered aromas of blackberry and fig jam, spice, chocolate, and minerals. This wine has allot of weight and its dense black fruit revealed itself more clearly on the palate along with added mineraltiy and clove. The concentrated fruit was held in check by a broad backbone of youthful and chalky tannins. As one might expect from a 1998 Right Bank Bordeaux of this caliber, this wine has a long future ahead of it.
We boarded the Silversea’s Silver Whisper in Athens, to travel through the Black Sea to ports in the Ukraine and Turkey, ending in Istanbul
WOW, what a surprise…three weeks ago Bordeaux, last week Paris, now Athens and travelling to Istanbul. Life is good, isn´t it?!
Have a wonderful trip,
Glad you are enjoying your trip. Tasted the '98 Ausone earlier this year. Here are my notes:
Ch. Ausone 1998:
To me Ausone is a very singular wine. I can pick it out of lineups often, especially young Ausone. Part of the reason is because every time I taste one I always remark at the wine’s underlying Chablis-like, seashell mineral notes and that bit of iodine I usually find somewhere in the wine as well. It was there again. So were black berries, plums, faint herbs(rosemary?), crushed stones, espresso(more like the essence of espresso if that makes sense?) and what reminded me of grilled Argentinean meats. This was a big, voluptuous wine, full of pleasure and power but elegant all the same. The more I investigate this estate the more I am enamored with them and the more I try from '98 the more I want to buy (I should qualify that, but I won’t). If you can find this wine at a reasonable price- try. 94 points