Marlborough’s sparkling pioneer

Daniel le Brun. No. 1 Family Estate

When Daniel le Brun began to plant his Marlborough vineyard in 1980 he became the region’s méthode traditionnelle pioneer.

Daniel was born in Èpernay in the heart of Champagne country. The first record of his family planting vines dates back to 1684. Determined to continue their winemaking tradition, Daniel graduated from the School of Viticulture and Oenology at Avize but became frustrated by the limitations on the size of vineyards in Champagne.

No.1 Family wines are consistently good and seem to get progressively better with every new release.

After visiting New Zealand in 1975 he emigrated there, met his future wife, Adele, and planted a vineyard. Regal Salmon purchased a controlling interest in his company in 1987 and Daniel eventually left Cellier le Brun to start a new company, No.1 Family Estate, which now has a vineyard and winery on Rapaura Road.

Adele is responsible for marketing and business development, their daughter Virginie is the domestic and international sales director while son, Remy, is in charge of viticulture.

No.1 Family wines are consistently good and seem to get progressively better with every new release. They are méthode traditionnelle specialists, which allows a strong focus on fizz without being distracted by other wine styles. Vine age and growing winemaking and viticultural experience must also contribute to their success.

The winery ranked a creditable 16th place in The Real Review’s Top Wineries of New Zealand 2021 list.

Their entry-level No 1 Family No 1 Assemblé is a rich, generous blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier that has spent at least 18 months en tirage (in contact with the yeast lees in bottle). It offers excellent value at the recommended price of NZD $32.

The No 1 Family No 1 Cuvée is 100% chardonnay that has spent two years en triage. It is a classic blanc de blancs style that combines citrus and green apple fruit flavours with brioche and nut characters. Also a snip at NZD $36.

My favourite wine in their range is the No 1 Family No 1 Rosé. Made from 100% pinot noir, with at least 18 months en tirage, it has an ethereal texture with hints of strawberry supported by refreshing fruity acidity.

The No 1 Family’s flagship wine is their 2016 Virginie Cuvée, which is only produced in exceptional vintages. An appealing blend of chardonnay 80% and pinot noir 20% that has been aged on the lees in bottle for three years and 9 months, it offers concentration and complexity.

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