Bouvet-Ladubay Saumur Brut Ogmius 2015
Do you know who Ogmius was, for the ancient peoples? Along with Toutatis, the god of death and Taranis, the god of thunder, he was one of the main gods of the Celtic religion. He represented strength, eloquence, wisdom and beauty. He was the one to lead the souls of the deceased to the kingdom of the dead on chains of gold.
– Ogmius, Geoffrey Ratouis (published 2010)
The house of Bouvet-Ladubay was founded in 1851 by Etienne Bouvet (1828 – 1908) and his wife Célestine Ladubay, following their purchase of a riverside plot in Saint-Hilaire-Saint-Florent, complete with eight kilometres of underground galleries and tunnels. In doing so he was following in the footsteps of his one-time employer, Jean-Baptiste Ackerman (1790 – 1866), who had set up what would become Ackerman-Laurance four decades earlier. Etienne saw continued potential for sparkling wine in the region, and he was eager to take advantage of the knowledge of the winemaking process which Ackerman had brought to Saumur from Champagne.
Etienne’s success was nothing short of legendary, and he grew in status, the one-time would-be vigneron becoming one of Saumur’s most wealthy philanthropists. He built not only cellars and warehouses, but mansions and theatres too, a number of which still grace the back streets of Saumur today. But tongues soon began to wag. Had Etienne Bouvet really made his money though the sales of sparkling wine? Rumours that he had found treasure in the darkest recesses of the cellars he had purchased began to take hold, the locals seemingly preferring to believe fame and fortune came from serendipity or skulduggery rather than simple hard graft.
In his novel Ogmius (Éditions Turnover, 2010), also titled The Secret of Etienne Bouvet, author Geoffrey Ratouis takes the side of the local peasants and imagines exactly what form such treasure might have taken, and exactly what Etienne might have done with it after finding it. He names the treasure Ogmius (and I don’t think I am giving anything away by revealing it is something more tangible than the myth of an ancient deity), and this is also the name chosen by the Monmousseau family for a new cuvée first released in the 2007 vintage to honour Etienne’s life. At the time I believed the Ogmius cuvée was to be a one-off release, never to be repeated, but it seems the quality of the 2015 vintage persuaded the Monmousseau family to produce a new vintage of this wine, the first since 2007. Perhaps their reacquisition of the house that year, the family having previously sold it to the Taittinger family back in 1974, gave them cause for celebration?
The 2015 Saumur Brut Ogmius 2015 from Bouvet-Ladubay is a blend of top-quality Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay, made by the méthode traditionnelle, the fruit aged in oak before the second fermentation. As with the prior release just 3852 magnums have been produced, and this is number 713. It has a very pale, straw-tinged hue in the glass. There is an energetic bead at first, although it soon settles down to a just few columns of rather modest bubbles. I find great purity on the nose, all blanched almonds tinged with a honeyed edge, and some tightly defined citrus fruits leaning towards lemon. This style persists on the palate, a tense spindle of tight bubbles leading the way, carrying with them a limestone energy, all crushed chalk and minerals, as well as a great textural substance, filled with pressed lemon and orange fruits. It feels long, concentrated and energetic. This is a fabulous sparkling wine which should evolve well over the next decade, and perhaps beyond. And tasting it, I think we have good evidence as to the source of Etienne Bouvet’s wealth; not from the discovery of hidden treasure, but from the discovery of the joy hidden within a glass of sparkling Saumur. 95/100 (8/3/21)
Read more in: