Bouvet-Ladubay Mlle Ladubay Saumur Brut 2005
Getting to grips with the Bouvet-Ladubay range is certainly difficult, as it is broad and multifaceted. It is easy to pick up information on those cuvées that are more celebrated, rightly or wrongly, such as the oaked Trésor and the demi-sec Cuvée Or, but these wines account for just one or two cogs in the machine. With over 120 growers on their books, the firm deals with huge quantities of wine, broadly split into two tiers. The upper layer is the one most written about; these are the 'premium' cuvées, I suppose, and certainly these bottles are the ones most likely to be found on export markets. Hidden beneath this layer, however, is the Mademoiselle Ladubay range.
The Mlle Ladubay portfolio is made to a price that suits the French supermarket shelf, and as such it is perhaps not so surprising that many writers show no interest in discussing the wines. They are, however, worth exploring, not least because some of the cuvées show great typicity, wonderfully mineral flavour and the wines can thus be great bargains. Indeed, a good wine from the Mlle Ladubay range, displaying a palate of limestone, nettles and acid, speaks to me of the Loire much more than a more loudly trumpeted cuvée tarted up with top-heavy residual sugar or swamped with honeyed oak. Add a good vintage into the blend - and the Loire has been able to boast many of these in recent years - and you have a petit vin which punches way above its weight.
On inspection this particular wine from Bouvet-Ladubay's Mlle Ladubay range, the 2005 Saumur Brut, has a straw-gold hue, perhaps showing a little more richness than the 2004 did, with a fine bead. The nose is just great, showing quite overtly a wealth of minerals and rocks - it is like licking a large, dry stone, and it promises much. On the palate this characteristic holds true, with plenty of firm and bright stony-rocky flavour, but layered on top here we have wonderfully rounded fruit - ripe peach juice in particular - as vibrant as if the juice had been squeezed over the aforementioned stones. The two layers intertwine beautifully, and although such fruit richness might offend some Loire purists, I find its unexpected presence to be both harmonious and innervating. In fact, it is absolutely delicious. Having said that, a second bottle a few days later showed all the mineral elements but with much more muted fruit, so there may be some bottle or batch variation out there. It was still, however, super and yet inexpensive drinking. 17.5/20
By all means follow my links below to track down this and other Bouvet-Ladubay wines, but outside the supermarkets of the Loire I think their availability is rather limited. (28/7/08)