Blog

The Devil's Wine

Posted by No 1 Family Estate on May 16, 2017

The production of sparkling wine was a haphazard affair until the late 1800s when the role of yeast in the fermentation process was fully understood, and the process of a second fermentation could be controlled by quantifying the amount of sugar added to the bottled wine.

Around the same time, a series of sophisticated developments were in place that  propelled the production of sparkling wine into the industrialised process that we know as Méthode Traditionelle:

  • Liqueur de tirage (the addition of a measured quantity of sugar and yeast at the time of bottling to promote second fermentation);
  • Disgorgement (removing the sediment from the bottle after the completion of secondary fermentation);
  • Liqueur d’expedition (added after disgorgement to balance the wine). 

 

Méthode Traditionelle is a process that has remained fundamentally unchanged to this day and it is one that our family, the Le Bruns, has been perfecting for 12 generations in France, and more recently in New Zealand.

Armed with new knowledge and understanding of the wine making process, winemakers in the 17th century began to produce sparkling wines with precision and consistency, although it could still be a hazardous, and wasteful, process. Bottles under pressure from the fermentation process could spontaneously explode and cellar workers had to wear heavy iron masks to prevent injury. It was not uncommon for cellars to lose 20–90% of their bottles to instability because the disturbance caused by one exploding bottle could cause a chain reaction. The mystique of the exploding bottles led some critics to call the sparkling creations "The Devil's Wine”.

How times have changed…

“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things in the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection.”

Ernest Hemingway

The early sparkling winemaking process was sufficient for the annual production of 600 000 bottles but when the first machines appeared in the 1840s that accurately dispensed the liqueur de tirage, annual production exploded to 6 million bottles. By the end of the 1880s when the disgorgement process became faster and easier, to 30 million bottles.  Today annual production of sparkling wine worldwide is over 2 billion bottles.

Do you agree with Ernest Hemingway? Buy your wine HERE.

 

It’s Mother’s Day!

Posted by No 1 Family Estate on May 02, 2017

Sunday May 14th is Mother’s Day, the day where we aim to delight and surprise the family member who is always there to hold your hand!

This year you may be celebrating with your actual Mum, or perhaps your Nana, your sister, your wife or partner, or a friend that you think is doing a great job cherishing and nurturing their family.

Here are 3 ways to celebrate Mother’s Day:

  • With family – Sounds obvious… But we’re not just talking about the kids. Let the generations unite by gathering grandparents, aunts, uncles, mums (of course), dads, nieces, nephews, sons and daughters! The more the merrier. Don’t forget to add bountiful bubbles, and if you have a crowd of hungry and thirsty family, contact us to purchase a Magnum of something special or a mixed case.
  • With food – Plan a breakfast feast, light lunch, afternoon tea or decadent dinner. Just make sure that Mum doesn’t lift a finger. Add some sparkle to the occasion with a glass of No. 1 Cuvée.
  • With friends – Sadly not everybody looks forward to Mother’s Day. So find time to gather your friends who may not have someone around that they call Mum, or may have never been called Mum themselves.

 

If you’re in Marlborough, our cellar door is open from 11:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on Mother’s Day and we’d love to see you!

A Happy Accident

Posted by No 1 Family Estate on April 20, 2017

You may find it hard to believe, but there was a time when bubbles in wine were seen as a fault in the winemaking process and the sign of an inferior product, rather than the result of the skills of a master craftsman like our own Daniel Le Brun.

Bubbles have been observed in wine since biblical times, but until fermentation was understood, there were no explanations for this ‘aberration’ except to blame the moon or the spirits, both good and bad.

The most common (and plausible) reason is, in fact, a 17th century distribution issue. In England during the 17th century, when a young playwright called William Shakespeare was attracting rowdy crowds of revellers to his new plays, the wine they drank was transported from Champagne in wooden barrels and bottled by local merchants when it arrived in England.

In Champagne, the cold winters would undoubtedly have halted the fermentation process prematurely, leaving residual sugar and dormant yeast in the wine. After shipping to England, fermentation would start again when the wine was bottled and stored in the warmth of the English taverns. When the bottles were opened as if by magic (or sorcery), the wine would be bubbly.

A significant step forward was made in 1662 when the English scientist Christopher Merret presented a paper detailing how the presence of sugar in wine led to it to become fizzy, and that by adding sugar before bottling nearly any wine could be made to sparkle. Merret was describing, for the first time, the process of secondary fermentation.

So while you may have heard the delightful story of Dom Pérignon – the blind monk who accidentally made sparkling wine and cried, “Come quickly! I am drinking the stars!”, there is no evidence that it is true. It is more likely that Dom Pérignon spent most of his time trying to get rid of the bubbles that appeared naturally and by chance in his wine as they caused havoc in the cellar, the pressure inside the bottles causing many to explode.

As the popularity of sparkling wine began to grow, the problem for winemakers was to learn how to control the natural process of secondary fermentation and make it consistent. From the insights described by Merret to a truly commercial scale process, took almost 200 years and several sophisticated innovations that are what we now know as Méthode Traditionelle.

At No.1 Family Estate, all our wines are made in the Méthode Traditionelle way that was accidentally discovered all those years ago. Purchase yours here... You may still believe you are drinking the stars.

How to have a No1 Autumn

Posted by No 1 Family Estate on April 04, 2017

What a stunning autumn we are having here in Marlborough! The colours are gorgeous, and don’t give up on your déjeuner à l'extérieur just yet, because the warm weather often continues well into April.

Sadly, too many people say goodbye to bubbles once the summer season bids us farewell, but you don’t need to save the fizz for winter festivities, you should continue to enjoy it tous les jours!
 
Here are three ways to enjoy bubbles in Autumn…
 
At our house:

Visit our elegant cellar door, browse our carefully selected collection of jewellery and gifts, and enjoy a complimentary tasting of our wines.

Our cellar door is open 7 days a week from 10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., during the week, and from 11:00 a.m. at the weekends. 

We would love to welcome you and share the story of our family and our award winning wines.

At your house:

Autumn is a great time to entertain. Why not celebrate the beauty of the season and the bountiful harvest produce? If the weather’s good, consider a sparkling brunch outside. As the temperatures change its time to embrace the Sunday roast, choose lamb and pair it with No.1 Rosé. As the evenings cool don’t disappear inside, it’s the perfect time to gather around the brazier with friends, family and a bottle of bubbles.

Out & About:

There’s still plenty of sunshine to warrant packing a picnic lunch and heading into the great outdoors. Why not add some French flair to your hamper, include fresh bread, creamy cheeses, pâté de campagnes and of course, a chilled bottle of No.1 Cuvee.

If you’re in Marlborough it’s almost time for the annual Bayleys Fashion in the Field Car Boot Picnic at Waterlea Racecourse, so dig out the family silver and set up in style… Don’t forget the bubbles!

Order your Autumn wine HERE.

How to enjoy Easter with No1 Family Estate

Posted by No 1 Family Estate on April 03, 2017

With Easter not far away it’s time to think about how you’re going to spend the long weekend. If you’re in the Northern hemisphere spring has just arrived, with longer, warmer days and in the Southern hemisphere we’re still enjoying the tail end of summer. So wherever you’re enjoying the holiday may it be filled with good weather and excellent wine!

Here’s our No1 guide featuring five ways to add some sparkle to your Easter festivities.

  • Ditch the lunch and celebrate with brunch - Whilst we love a long lunch, we’re also up for any excuse to get the family gathering started early, so why not plan a delicious brunch with eggs, (of course… It’s Easter), smoked salmon, bagels and don’t forget the bubbles!
  • Forget the chocolate, chink glasses instead – Whilst it may be considered a national day of chocolate, leave the Cadburys for the kids, and gift your adult friends some bubbles. We know you’ll be the most popular guest at the gathering if you do.
  • Make sure your egg hunt goes off with a pop – Why should the littlies have all the fun of the egg hunt? Consider adding a couple of bonus corks to the hidden eggs, (you’ll have to drink the wine first of course), keep a couple of bottles back for adult prizes, whoever finds the corks gets the fizz!
  • Save time for tea – We’re talking afternoon tea, with savouries, delightful sandwiches, scones and not forgetting the star of the show… No.1 Cuvee!
  • Forget the bonnet, don your LBD – The Saturday between good Friday and Easter Sunday is a perfect day to host a drinks party. Keep things simple with canapes, fizz and your favourite little black dress!

 

In the UK? Order your wines from Amathus, or if you’re in New Zealand buy online.

Julien and Maxime

Posted by No 1 Family Estate on March 21, 2017

There has been more than a soupçon of French-ness in the winery recently thanks to Maxime Gerlier and Julien Pernet, two young champagne makers who are visiting us from France. Julien comes from Mancy, a village just 5 minutes from Daniel’s hometown of Monthelon. His grandmother was a Le Brun and he makes his champagne with his father at Pernet-Lebrun. Maxime is a champagne maker at Vincent Gerlier and has plans to open his own champagne house.

They are visiting us at No. 1 Family Estate to experience a NZ vintage under Daniel’s watchful eye.

“It’s the same but different in NZ,” says Maxime. “In the winery, we do things the same way as we do in France but there are differences in the vineyard.”

“We have no birds eating our grapes” he says, “so we never have to put nets on our vines”. Instead, because the canes in Champagne grow lower to the ground than they do in NZ, the problem is rabbits. They are also eager to see first hand the different pruning methods used in NZ and are enjoying our better weather which is not just good for the grapes but for winemakers avoiding a northern hemisphere winter! 

Not surprisingly, many of the words that we use to describe Méthode Traditionelle are French  - liqueur de tirage, dégorgement,  remuage are just a few -  so Julien and Maxime feel right at home. It’s a different story with our Kiwi accents though. The Kiwi pronunciation of French words makes them smile and our fast-paced Kiwi English leaves them scratching their heads.

Obviously proud of their Champagne heritage, Maxime and Julien are eager to learn as much as they can from the innovations Daniel has made in his 40 year career as a wine maker in NZ. It’s about holding on to traditions but being open to innovation, they say.

For these Frenchmen who, like Daniel, have champagne running in their veins, it’s always about the bubbles and, like true gentlemen, they would not be drawn on which they prefer.” They are all good,” they say and we couldn’t agree more.

Always time for Bubbles

Posted by No 1 Family Estate on March 13, 2017

Cameron Douglas, New Zealand's first and only master sommelier, wine judge, commentator and educator has awarded four of No. 1 Family Estate Méthode Traditionnelle wines top scores in his recent sparkling wine feature article "Always time for bubbles" (FMCG Business, April 2017) and we are delighted.

Here's what Cameron had to say:

No. 1 Family Estate Cuvée Virginie Méthode Traditionnelle 2009, 97/100 points

Sophisticated bouquet with a great vintage and bottle age offering aromas of complexity, elegance and total charm. Baked goods, Portuguese lemon tart and stone fruits, old rose. On the palate - a finely beaded mousse cushions flavours of citrus and peach, fine autolysis development and crisp lengthy finish. A delightful wine wither several years of pleasure yet to be discovered. Order yours HERE.

No. 1 Family Estate Rosé Méthode Traditionnelle NV, 96/100 points

Attractive, fresh, lively and precise bouquet. Aromas of flowers, light red fruits, cherry and just picked strawberry, mild to moderate autolysis and a touch of intrigue. On the palate - crisp, fresh, dry and packed with a gentle charm. The mousse is silky and fine, flavours balanced and elegant with a brioche and lightly toasted autolysis charm; very long finish. Order yours HERE.

No. 1 Family Estate Assemblé Méthode Traditionnelle NV, 96/100 points

Alluring and intense bouquet, aromas of bread and brioche, peach and citrus, a light white flower note adds charm and depth, quite complex overall. On the palate - generous, full, rich in flavour and presence, flavours of roasted stone fruits and baked lemon, butter brioche and Arnott's Round Wine biscuit. Fine persistent mousse and lengthy finish. Order yours HERE.

No. 1 Family Estate No. 1 Cuvée  Méthode Traditionnelle NV, 95/100 points

Very attractive bouquet, complex and sophisticated without being pushy, aromas of brioche and toasty autolysis set against a background of citrus and white strawberry. On the palate - fresh, crisp and delicious; flavours of grapefruit and apple, some lemons and plenty of autolysis undertones, fine mousse and lengthy finish. What's not to like? Order yours HERE.

Cameron also writes about the evolution of New Zealand's Méthode Traditionnelle : "New Zealand's sparkling wine production has been built on the foundation of understanding the Méthode Traditionelle technique and growing ripe fruit with naturally high acid to make base wines suitable for secondary fermentation in bottle or tank." 

He adds, "The key advantages for New Zealand sparkling wine in a global economy are high quality at lower volumes, freshness and clear flavour profiles, rarity and competitive price points."

Read the full article here.

 

Bubbles for Mum

Posted by No 1 Family Estate on March 08, 2017

We’re sure you show your Mum how much you love and appreciate her every day… But that one day of the year that all Mums deserve to be truly revered is fast approaching, Mother’s Day in the U.K. is on March 26th.

Mums come in many forms… So whether you are spoiling your Gran, your sister, the mother of your children, your best friend, or your actual Mum we have the perfect bottle of bubbles to treat them to a sparkling Sunday.

No.1 Cuvée  – If your Mum loves an afternoon curling up in front of a classic movie then she’ll love a classic bottle of bubbles to make it even more relaxing. No.1 Cuvée is one of New Zealand’s most highly regarded Methode Traditionelle wines. The wine is 100% chardonnay (blanc de blancs) – A perfect balance between ripe, fresh fruit and toasty yet creamy yeast.  It displays a fine, consistent bead and firm mousse resulting in a complex character. The palate is smooth and seamless with a wonderful balance of acidity, giving a wine of elegance and style.
We suggest An Affair to Remember, a simple afternoon tea with smoked salmon sandwiches and a glass of No.1 Cuvée. Buy yours HERE.

No.1 Rosé – If your Mum enjoys the great outdoors, then after your Sunday stroll enjoy a bottle of No.1 Rosé. The delicate salmon-pink wine celebrates the superb climate of Marlborough. The wine offers a seamless balance of subtle cherry and almond hints combined with a fresh acidity. Dry, yet fresh and elegant, this wine leaves a lasting impression of opulence and splendour.
We suggest a morning jaunt to enjoy the spring flowers, a lovingly prepared Sunday lunch of roast lamb to refuel and a glass of No.1 Rosé. Buy yours HERE.

No.1 Assemblé – For all the young Mums out there, who spend their days chasing their tales and multi-tasking, we recommend our latest release, No. 1 Assemblé, fresh and inviting with sophisticated and typical characters and intense flavours.
We suggest breakfast in bed, bagels and bubbles are the way to go! Buy your No.1 Assemblé HERE.

 

Bubbles and Balls…

Posted by No 1 Family Estate on February 16, 2017

Bubbles and balls have long gone together… There’s nothing quite like the glitz and glamour of a formal dance party or masquerade to encourage the flow of fizz!

But this month we have another type of ball on our minds… The rugby ball, as we’ve been caught up in the 6 Nations!

We may have our home in New Zealand, but we’re still proud of our family roots in Champagne, France, where members of the Le Brun family still live; and of course Adele was born in England. So whilst our mighty All Blacks aren’t part of the 6 Nations tournament, two of our back up teams are!

If you’re based in the Northern hemisphere and are enjoying Rugby’s Greatest Championship, why not give the beer a miss next time you switch on the big screen? Go for bubbles instead!

Five of No.1 Family Estate’s Methode Traditionelle Wines are available to buy online from Amathus Drinks.

  • No.1 Family Estate Assemblé NV- fresh and inviting with sophisticated and typical characters and intense flavours.
  • No.1 Family Estate Cuvée Blanc de Blancs NV - one of New Zealand's most highly regarded Méthode Traditionelle wines.
  • No.1 Family Estate Reserve (R.D) - Intensely flavoured and focused with a good fruit-yeast balance providing elegance and style.
  • No.1 Family Estate Cuvée Rose NV (Pinot Noir) - Dry, yet fresh and elegant, this wine leaves a lasting impression of opulence and splendour.
  • No.1 Family Estate Cuvee Virginie - A vintage Méthode Traditionelle created to honour Virginie Le Brun's 21st birthday.

Find our wines HERE

Marlborough Wine & Food Festival 2017

Posted by No 1 Family Estate on February 02, 2017

It’s that time of year again the Marlborough Wine & Food Festival takes place on Saturday 11th February, and we’ll be there to help your day sparkle!

We’re as delighted to be involved in this iconic Marlborough event this year, as we were to be asked to the very first one back in the 1980s by Ernie Hunter. We’ve had a lot of fun over our years at the festival, with themed stands from Putting on the Ritz to an occasion where we marked the bicentennial of the French Revolution, guillotine and all! You’ll have to visit us at the event, if you want to know what Remy has planned this year, but we can confirm there will be fun, frivolity and fizz!

The event garners a great sense of occasion and we’ve been thrilled to help our No.1 fans make their own traditions over the Wine Festival weekend. This year will be the twenty fifth anniversary that one group of special ladies, “The Girls on Tour”, have been attending the event, and we always look forward to welcoming them not just to our stand on the day, but also to our cellar door on the Sunday. The Girls on Tour inject some real glamour to the event as they all take on Hollywood names for the weekend… Last year Adele was made an honorary GOT as Lady Penelope! And yes she has the t-shirt to prove it!

If you’re visiting the Marlborough Wine & Food Festival here are our top 5 tips to ensure you have a corking time!

  • Don’t forget the sunscreen – The weather gods have pretty much always been kind to us, so sunscreen, sunshades and hats are an absolute must!
  • Dress to impress – There are some great prizes up for grabs at the Fashion in the Vines competition, so load the Instagram app on your phone and get snapping your sartorial shenanigans. All the details are HERE.
  • Cash is King – There are cash facilities on site, but who wants to queue for money, when you could be drinking bubbles?!
  • Bring your dancing shoes – With a great line up of live music and Supergroove on the mainstage from 4:30 p.m. we know you’ll want to boogie!
  • Make a weekend of it – Be like the Girls on Tour and make the most of your weekend by visiting the cellar door on Sunday. We’d love to see you!