Not every 23-year-old ends up getting himself an 8-kilometer basement space that dates back to 1851. However, this is what Etienne Bouvet did, who together with his wife Celestine Ladubay decided to start a life-long project in Saint-Hilaire-Saint-Florent, near Saumur. Before the cellars were harnessed for the use of a winery named after their owners, they had been used in the 11th century by Benedictine monks when transporting the white tuff used as a building material in the area. Etienne built sparkling wine production facilities on the farm, and at the turn of the millennium, the farm produced up to 7 million bottles of sparkling wine per year! One chapter in the farm's history ended when Etienne passed away in 1908. The ensuing World War I and the depression cut off Bouvet-Ladubay's profit flow and the farm was auctioned in 1932.
The second chapter of the estate's history began when Justin-Marcel Monmousseau, who has been making sparkling wines in Touraine with his family since 1886, called the estate for himself. Second generation Jean took over the farm from his father in 1946 and began restoring the winery to its former glory. From the 1950s, quality sparkling wines were once again produced on the farm. Patrice Monmousseau, the next generation, started managing the farm in 1972 when he was only 28 years old. In that case, the farm only produced 350,000 bottles per year, which by no means covered all the investments made. Patrice brought a lot of new ideas to the farm and little by little, after first convincing his father of his own intentions, began to modernize the equipment used in winemaking. The old barrels were replaced with steel tanks, which minimized the oxidation of the base wines. Patrice also developed a manual gyro palette, with which, due to the lack of electricity, it was possible to dance the bottles that had matured in the cellars for a long time. However, after Jean's death in 1974, the family's opinions about the future of the estate were divided and eventually Bouvet Ladubay was sold to the Taittinger champagne house. It was time for the third chapter of the farm's history.
After meeting Claude Taittinger, Patrice Monmousseau decided to remain in charge of the company, as the gentlemen's thoughts and hopes for the future of the farm were similar. With the freedom brought by the new ownership, Patrice managed to increase the sales of sparkling wines tenfold over the next three decades. In 2005, Taittinger decided to sell the farm to an American investment fund. This set alarm bells ringing in Patrice's head, and he fought for his right to find a new private buyer for the property. After managing to find a financier for his work, Patrice was able to realize his dream of comprehensively modernizing the farm. In 2007, Patrice's daughter Juliette joined her father in winemaking, taking responsibility for the blending of different wines. Today, Juliette is responsible for the farm's operations, steering the farm strongly forward. Finally, in 2015, the Monmousseau family managed to buy the farm completely back for themselves, and today Bouvet Ladubay is a prestigious family farm, the fourth chapter of which we can follow and build together in Finland.
The Bouvet Ladubay farm has several contract farmers with whom long cooperation agreements have been concluded. The shelter areas are located in the appellations of Saumur, Anjou and Crémant de Loire. Most of the farmers are in the process of getting the HVE certificate and some already have an organic certificate. After the grapes are harvested, the bunches are pressed immediately and the fresh juice is brought to the winery, where it ferments in steel tanks, is made into sparkling wine using the traditional method, and matures for the necessary time in historic cellars before reaching the market. Chenin Blanc is the most important grape variety of the estate's sparkling wines, and it is complemented by both Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc.
The farm's annual production is about 3 million bottles.