Welcome to the land next to the one below, part of the largest empire in the world, home to the Kiwi bird and amazing sparkling wines.
New Zealand is a fascinating country that is worth learning a bit more about, especially about its wonderful wine region.
New Zealand’s first vineyard was planted on September 25, 1819, it was recorded in the diary of Samuel Marsden, he was an Anglican missionary, born in Farsley in England. But the first vines planted in Marlborough date back to the 1870s.
It’s here that #1 Family Estate populated, it is New Zealand’s largest wine region, Marlborough accounts for three quarters of New Zealand’s wine productionwith 70% of its vineyard and 85% of its wine exports.
In 2003, New Zealand had 4,516 hectares (11,160 acres) of vineyards, and today that number has grown to around 39,935 hectares (98,680 acres). A large percentage of this is devoted to the Sauvignon grape, about two-thirds, 25,160 hectares.
329 million liters (87 million US gallons) of wine are made in New Zealand each year, 90% of which go abroad and are exported to Great Britain, the United States and Australia. Despite producing hundreds of millions of liters of wine, New Zealand produces less than 1% of the wine industry‘s wine.
Although we are talking about New Zealand sparkling wine, we must first dip our toes in champagne to discover the story of a New Zealand winery that is responsible for driving the New Zealand industry forward by carrying out many raw.
1684 is the first record of Le Brun planting vines in Champagne and in 1791 Champagne Le Brun produced its first bottle, the Champagne name that would go down in history in New Zealand., the Le Brun family had a great time in Champagne, but at some point part of the family traveled to New Zealand. Adele & Daniel Le Brun are the two names that mean a lot to the family estate no.1, during their time there, Daniel Le Brun earned himself a nickname, the grandfather of the Traditional Method in New Zealandbeing recognized for many “firsts” in the New Zealand wine industry, being dedicated to every stage of production, from ground to bottle.
His wife, Adele Le Brun, is responsible for building the brand, making it known not only in New Zealand but around the world.
Their children are also now involved in the business, their son Remy grew up in the vineyards, he has completed his baccalaureate in viticulture and oenology and is the 13th generation of winegrowers from the Le Brun family and the first generation of Kiwi members of the French-New Zealand Le Brun family.
And their daughter Virginie Le Brun is known to be a New Zealand actress and television presentershe appeared in a children’s show ‘What Now’ and a New Zealand soap opera ‘Shortland Street’, she joined No.1 Family Estate in 2013 as a global brand ambassador in London until 2017 when to which she left to become director of national and international sales. based in Auckland.
They both have their own sparkling wine named after them, Cuvée Virginie and Cuvée Remy, Daniel Le Brun made these bottles as a 21 year old gift, he also made one for his wife, Cuvée Adele to celebrate a birthday marking.
The Le Brun family has been operating in New Zealand for over 45 yearsit started when Daniel wanted something different, find a different place, find a place where he could still plant vines and produce sparkling wine the traditional way, he visited many places and did a lot of research on the terrain and conditions until he found what he considered the perfect place in 1975, in New Zealand.
I asked Daniel Le Brun – How did you feel about leaving France and moving to New Zealand? – His answer was “I didn’t know anything about New Zealand except that it was the land of opportunity. There were few opportunities in France in the 1970s, so if there were any challenges, I was eager to take them on.
While in New Zealand in search of the perfect plot, she met her future wife, Adele. He fell in love with her, but when she was caring for his dying mother in Rotorua, he put his search on hold to be next to her.
One year later in January 1979, Daniel will marry Adeleand 18 months later will be born their first child, a beautiful girl whom they will baptize Virginie.
At that time, Daniel knew he wanted to plant vines in Marlborough, it was the place he was looking for, he knew it, but to finance such an operation, he had to sell part of his vines in Champagne to his brother, a difficult task to accomplish, but which will allow him to build his dream in New Zealand with his new family.
He also started harvesting vine cuttings for planting, as a Champenois he mainly focused on the Champagne varietals of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, he also went for Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.
The time was almost right, in 1980 Daniel, Adele and their then 4 month old daughter moved to Marlborough, with his 50,000 cuttings from the Rotorua nursery he had collected he would use them for planting, as soon as he bought 30 acres along State Highway 6, at the Renwick site in Marlborough.
Starting a new vineyard is tough, it takes a lot of patience, so while they waited for their vines to grow, Daniel helped manage other vineyards for a living, because even once the vines start producing grapes, the process Fermentation of Traditional Method Sparkling Wines lasts no less than 18 months.
For his new methods he began to be known as “The Crazy Frenchman”, but by 1983 Daniel and his vines were ready for their very first harvest in New Zealand.
In 1984, although in New Zealand, Daniel wanted the ‘Vaslin Champagne 4000’ which was used to make the Traditional Method Sparkling Wine, but, it had to come from France, it ended up taking 5 months and I imagine quite a lot of money to take it to the other side of the world, but that same press is still on the estate today.
After 5 years of hard work, on November 5, 1985, Daniel and Adele will release their very first Sparkling Wine.they called it the Daniel Le Brun NV, when they opened their first bottle they had over 200 guests, including the New Zealand House of Representatives and the French Ambassador, Mr. Jacques Bourgoin, the bottle was opened with a saber.
I asked Daniel Le Brun – How did you feel when you opened your first Traditional Method produced in New Zealand? – His answer was “Opening the first bottle was very rewarding, although there was a long way to go, but it showed a lot of potential: ‘Keep cool and continue boy’
Then in 1989 they had their second child, a boy, whom they named Remy.
They kept pushing the brand and working hard and in 1996 they sold their first business, Cellier Le Brun. The Daniel Le Brun brand now belongs to Lion Nathan.
This is where the family estate n°1 appears, in 1997, because they could no longer use their name as a brand, they chose the name No.1 Family Estate in recognition of the many “firsts” in New Zealand wine they had achieved over the years.
On July 14, 1999, they released their first Cuvée No.1 under the No.1 Family Estate brand. and in 2012, their Blended No. 1 was the first New Zealand wine to be labeled “Marlborough Method” instead of Traditional Method.
Family Estate N°1 – Cuvée N°1
Aroma 👃 “Currant, lightly toasted bread and delicate aroma fruits.”
Flavor 👅 “A high level of sparkling bubbles, woody flavors with ripe fruit and green citrus on the palate”
This sparkling wine from New Zealand Won a silver medal at Woody & Grilled Category to Glass of Bubbles Awards 2021
In 2019 they celebrated 20 years since the release of their first Cuvée No.1 and in 2020 they released their Cuvée Virginie 2016 to celebrate Virginie’s 40th anniversary and 40 years of pioneering Marlborough Traditional Method Sparkling Wines.
Family Estate No. 1 – Reserve No. 1
This is my favorite sparkling wine, the product of the #1 family estate, the aroma of this sparkling wine is truly amazing, I just hope I was able to describe it in my tasting notes.
Aroma 👃 “Right away you see that Hint of Spice, it’s a mixture of sweet spices like cinnamon, powdered, it smells as exotic as if you were walking through a spice market in India or the Middle East, there are also lower floral and fruity notes in the background adding to the amazing aroma.”
Flavor 👅 “A tingling sensation of spices, still a bit of sweet spice, but moving towards Indian curry spice, still in powder form, also hints of toast and green fruit on the palate.”
the Trophy Winner in the spice tip Category to Glass of Bubbles Awards 2021
Family Estate N°1 – Rosé N°1
Aroma 👃 “Well-grilled toast, salty sea air, warm fries on the beach and salty aromas.”
Flavor 👅 “Red fruits, red apples, salt water, wet stones and shellfish in the mouth.”
This Rosé Sparkling Wine from New Zealand Won a Money Medal in the Sea breeze Category to Glass of Bubbles Awards 2021
Family Estate #1 – Blend #1
Aroma 👃 “Creamy fruit, cheesecake, lemon zest, a true example of the Classic & Elegant category, with light floral notes of marzipan and more on the aroma.”
Flavor 👅 “A creamy and zesty mix, lemon zest, yellow flowers and yellow fruits on the palate.”
This sparkling wine from New Zealand Won a Gold Medal in the Classic and elegant Category to Glass of Bubbles Awards 2021
Special thanks to Daniel Le Brun for answering my questions for this article and to Ellie Vincent who works for No.1 Family Estate for her incredible help.