Birthday cuvee a labour of love
Sparkling inside and outKAT PICKFORD
Taking the top of a bottle of bubbles with a sabre is not a skill most people will master over their lifetime.
But for members of the Le Brun family, traditional sabrage has marked birthdays, vintages and special occasions for more than 12 generations.
The Marlborough wine family's latest milestone was Adele Le Brun's 60th birthday party on Saturday, when she sabred a bottle of cuvee methode traditionelle made especially for the occasion by her husband Daniel Le Brun.
Mr Le Brun is a 12th-generation winemaker from Champagne in France, and is considered to have pioneered the production of methode traditionelle in Marlborough, after first planting grapes here in 1980.
Mr Le Brun has also made wines for his children's 21st birthdays, but has only made one other cuvee - or single vintage methode traditionelle - and that was for his wife's 50th birthday.
The cuvee took 2 years to make and Mrs Le Brun feels lucky her husband remembered her birthday so far out.
"It is an absolutely lovely thing to do. You've got to plan these things, they don't just happen overnight. I've been truly spoilt," she said.
The limited-release single harvest No 1 Family Estate Adele Cuvee Methode Traditionelle is made from 80 per cent chardonnay grapes and 20 per cent pinot noir, and more uniquely, comes in a bottle embossed with Swarovski Crystal. Mrs Le Brun had Blenheim graphic designer Alex Lloyd design the label, which was made in Austria. Each of the crystal-studded transfers was carefully placed on the bottle by hand, and left to set for 24 hours.
Only 300 cases of the wine have been made and it sells for about $120 a bottle. Mrs Le Brun believes it will be popular in the luxury markets of Russia and China.
"I would buy it just for the bottle, it looks glamorous and elegant."
But how does the quality of the wine stack up?
"It's stunning, probably my favourite he's made under the new company."
- The Marlborough Express