New Zealand methode traditionelle specialist and Champagne-maker, Daniel Le Brun, launched his wholly family-owned wine producing business in July 1999, utilising the same processes perfected by his Champagne-making family in France over the last 12 generations.
The winery has been set up with state of the art processing equipment, imported from Champagne. Marketer and Champagne-maker Adele and Daniel Le Brun, and their children Virginie and Remy own the company. Virginie is an actress and also engaged in marketing the wine and Remy has worked in both Winery and Cellar Door.
This venture is dedicated solely to the production of only methode traditionelle. The five methodes produced at N° 1 Family Estate are Cuvée N° 1, a non-vintage blanc de blancs (100% chardonnay), No 1 Rosé a non-vintage, 100% Pinot Noir, Cuvée Number 8, a non-vintage blend, Reserve Cuvée 10, a limited edition, and when appropriate three vintage blends created in only the finest years, namely Cuvée Remy 2007, Cuvée Virginie 2006 and released for the first time in October 2012, Cuvee Adele 2009. Production will remain focused and will always be a limited edition, thereby allowing attention to detail and use of only top quality grapes.
In the past our winemaker has won a record number of awards for methode champenoise and numerous overseas accolades awards, including Sparkling Wine of the Year, Winestate Wine of the Year Awards in Australia in 2007. For Cuvée No 1 – Gold Medal Mundusvini International Wine Awards 2010 Germany, Blue Gold Trophy Sydney International Wine Competition 2009, Gold Medal Tri Nations Wine Challenge 2009, Sparkling Wine Trophy in the Boutique Wine Packaging Awards 2008, Trophy and Gold Medal in Winewise Small Vigneron Awards, Australia, 2007. Trophy for Best Bottle Fermented Sparkling Wine in 2001 at the International Wine & Spirit Competition in the United Kingdom, 5 stars and a TOP FIVE rating in Winestate Magazine in 2004 and a Blue Gold in the 2009 Sydney Top 100. Cuvée Number 8 has received the New Zealand Sparkling Trophy at the International Wine Awards, London 2012, Trophy for Bottle Fermented Sparkling Wine of the Year Runner-Up from Winestate Wine of the Year Awards, Australia and was awarded 5 stars, a TOP TEN rating, and was the highest placed New Zealand methode in Cuisine magazine in 2003. Reserve Cuvée No 10 96 Points in Gourmet Traveller Wine in 2009. In 1999 Cuvée Virginie 1999 awarded 96 points and the top scoring NZ Methode by Bob Campbell MW in Gourmet Traveller Wine Summer 2004. The 2006 Vintage won Blue Gold at Sydney Top 100 2011. Cuvée Remy 2007 came first in a Top 20 French Champagnes/New Zealand Methode Traditionelles in December 2012, beating Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2004.
Born in the village of Monthelon in France’s Champagne region, our winemaker came to New Zealand in 1975 looking for land suitable to develop into methode champenoise vineyards. A 12th generation Champagne-maker Daniel Le Brun’s family have been producing Champagne since 1648, and still do to this day. Father Rene, brother Jean-Claude and sister Isabel all produce under their own labels.
In July 1996 our winemaker was awarded France’s highest non-military medal, the National Order of Merit in recognition of his services to France and her people, and again in 2002 he was awarded the Order of Merit for services to agriculture. He is not the first member of his family to be decorated by a French government. His grandfather Nestor Le Brun was awarded France’s highest military medal for valour.
At the N° 1 Family Estate, the traditional method of Champagne production is followed, starting with the hand harvesting of the grapes in March at 19 brix. They are then whole bunch pressed in our especially imported Champagne Vaselin press with an extraction rate of 650 litres per tonne.
The juice is settled for 15 hours before racking off. Inoculated with yeast imported from the Institut d'oenologique in Epernay (incidentally our winemaker was the first to import Champagne yeast into the Southern Hemisphere). The first fermentation is then underway at a controlled temperature of 17°. The fermented wine is then racked off at total dryness. Depending on seasonal conditions a partial malo lactic fermentation is undertaken when added softness and roundness are required.
Thereafter cold stabilisation takes place to soften the acids a little more.
At springtime the art of the Champagne-maker is brought into play... BLENDING! This is the true craft of a master champagne maker. N° 1 is usually 80% of the current vintage blended with 20% of the previous vintage; of course, this creates consistency in non-vintage methodes. When the blending is satisfactorily completed the assemblage, or "prise de mousse" takes place. The wine is bottled with the addition of yeast and sugar at 2gm of sugar per litre of wine.
The wine is then stacked row upon row in our temperature controlled cellar to undergo the "second fermentation", and, as the sugar is consumed by the yeast the "bubble is born!” The cool dark conditions must be consistent to achieve a fine bead or bubble.
For 2 years the wine rests on its lees in the cool dark conditions, where the sediment formed by the second fermentation comes to rest on the side of the bottle. This is removed by remuage, or riddling as we say, in especially imported gyro pallets, once again, Daniel Le Brun, our winemaker was the first to import these technological wonders from his homeland, Champagne.
When riddling is complete the sediment is resting against the cap of the inverted bottle. The neck of the bottle is then frozen (using yet another specialised machine introduced to NZ by our winemaker) and degorgement, or disgorging, frees the sediment, the wine is topped up with wine of the same lot. A touch of sweetness to the bone dry wine is added with liqueur d’expedition, the bottle is capped, labelled and there you are!