Bouvet-Ladubay Saumur Zéro Extra Brut 2015
Bouvet-Ladubay is one of the best known of all the Ligérian sparkling wine producers, and in all the time I have been following the wines of the Loire Valley it has also been responsible for some of the best examples of the sparkling side of Saumur. From bargain basement bulles sold through la grande distribution, such as the 2005 Saumur Brut Mlle Ladubay, through special cuvées such as the Princess Taille range, up to super-rare one-offs such as the 2007 Ogmius, the Monmousseau family – who took back control of Bouvet-Ladubay in 2015 – turn out a range of wines which should suit every taste and pocket.
While some large-volume cuvées such as Saphir, Trésor and Trésor Rosé are easy to track down and also very easy to drink, over the past year or two I have taken to exploring the less frequently encountered cuvées. Of these the ultimate unicorn wine is the aforementioned Ogmius, made only in the 2007 vintage, with just a few thousand magnums produced. Less challenging to locate was the 2015 Instinct, a special cuvée created when the house was in the possession of Taittinger. This most recent weekend wine is another special cuvée from the same vintage.
The recipe here initially follows what is now a tried and tested method. It is a blend of Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay, the emphasis on the former (the appellation requires a minimum 60% and 90% is more typical for this cuvée), and after the first fermentation is completed the new wine ages in oak barrels for between six and nine months. It then goes into bottle for the second fermentation, induced by the méthode traditionnelle, in other words added yeast. The distinction which sets this cuvée apart from its peers is the dosage, which as the name suggests is zero. With no added sugar at the end point, the style is inevitably extra brut. To my palate, in the Loire Valley that is probably going to work best in a riper and more benevolent vintage. Such as, of course 2015.
In the glass the 2015 Saumur Zéro Extra Brut from Bouvet-Ladubay, bottle number 6121 if it matters, displays a lemon-straw hue and a plentiful bead. The nose is decidedly fresh, with scents of lemon pip and apricot skin, underpinned by notes of crushed-limestone and flinty minerality, intertwined with a matchsticky reductive freshness. This sense of precision feels appropriate for the style, and it continues on the palate which displays a very taut, incisive, mineral-pebbly, acid-driven character, loaded with notes of bitter citrus pips and a limestone bite. This all comes wrapped up in a taut substance and leads into a delightfully dry finish. An attractive wine, and a good example of the zero-dosage style. Although, having said that, I find the more welcoming sense of balance offered by cuvées such as Trésor are, perhaps, more suited to my palate. 91/100 (8/6/20)
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