Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Wines of the week - new bubblies

Daniel and Adele Le Brun weren't messing around when they named their wine brand No 1 Family Estate. If it sounds like a lofty ambition to aim for the top, it only needs to be taken in context, which is that Daniel Le Brun comes from a family with 12 generations of winemaking in the Champagne region in France. He brings a lot of wine wisdom to this relatively youthful wine country, not to mention centuries of experience that he learnt while growing up. Not that every single wine produced at No 1 Family Estate floats my boat; some of them have the toasty taste that has seduced my personal taste preferences while others are creamier, richer, full and softer styles. I have a bit of a penchant for Blanc de Noir, also known as sparkling wine made in the traditional method, only entirely from the Pinot Noir grape. This is no easy task because red grapes contain tannins and, even when given light skin contact, this can impact on the effect of the bubbles, but the production methods at No 1 have been refined over the decades that the family has made wine in Marlborough.

  • Later this month, there will be a new No 1 sparkling wine released. Watch this space and in the meantime, try these new releases from No 1.

Wines of the week

Ranked in order of ratings

No 1 Rosé RRP $49

Consistent winner of the No 1 range with its toasty aromas leading into a full bodied sparkling wine made in the mould of a great blanc de noir (white wine made from black grapes) champagne, only this bubbly has a little skin contact to give this wine its light pink hue. The fresh wood fired dough aromas are supported by impressive firm structure from the Pinot Noir grapes. The wine was aged in bottle on its yeast lees for two years and this provides depth of flavour and a characterful style. Very consistent, very impressive and tastes even better on day two, if willpower allows.

No 1 Reserve NV RRP $96

Lingering flavours express the long ageing time this full bodied Chardonnay has spent in the bottle following its second fermentation. The richness of flavour develops over years in bottle as left over yeast lees break down into the wine, releasing flavours of creamy pastry dough which are nicely balanced by citrusy acidity. This is a great sparkling wine from New Zealand, which highlights not only the potential for great Chardonnay but also exceptional bubblies from this country's biggest wine region, Marlborough. 

No 1 Cuvée RRP $38

No 1 Cuvée is a blend of Chardonnay grapes which express the smooth and citrusy side of the world's favourite white grape (Chardonnay) in its most noble sparkling form - a bottle fermented and aged bubbly. This wine has a lovely smooth textural mouthfeel balanced by lemon and grapefruit flavour notes that leave a lingering impression of freshness.

No 1 Family Estate No 1 Assemblé NV RRP $34

Lively medium bodied sparkling wine made from a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, which spent less time on lees than their big siblings, featured above. This is a good quality sparkling wine from Marlborough, a gateway into what the region is capable of, when the wines are in good hands.