THE STORY OF TWO FAMILIES: CHAMPAGNE DIRECT IN NEW ZEALAND AND JEAN-MARC VIGREUX-FRÈRE IN FRANCE

Welcome to the story of our business and how we came to represent Jean-Marc Vigreux-Frère champagne in New Zealand.

It is now a story 25 years old, a story of two families… one French and one from this long white clouded land. We’ve grown our businesses together despite the distance between us. We love the Vigreux-Frère family. They are our friends, our partners and our heritage.

This wonderful family live within a small village in the heart of champagne appellation area called Cauroy-Lès-Hermonville. Here, champagne is produced under strict regulations which uphold its authenticity, quality and style. There is only one ‘champagne’ and this precious word is used to tell the story of grapes grown within a precisely delimited region which has that special combination of harsh climate and exceptional soil. Champagne’s unique flavour is derived from these grapes which are blended together from…

Pinot Noir – with a powerful red berry nose and redcurrant taste

Pinot Meunier – scents of red fruits and citrus

Chardonnay – contributing freshness and elegance

Jean-Marc and Nadine Vigreux-Frère’s generation have produced grapes on the family vineyard since 1981, supplying their juice on contract to the large champagne houses, or Grande Marques. In 1986 they started adding value to their crop by selling some as the finished product, and by 1995, all production from this French family was then being sold directly by them as their own champagne.

In France, just as in New Zealand, some of the best wines are produced by the smaller vineyards that customers have discovered themselves or heard of by word of mouth from a friend or business contact. Because of their size, small producers seldom venture beyond their own local market, let alone export to distant countries. Lucky for us, our French family trust us to represent their brand and their own story, as part of our story.

JEAN-MARC AND NADINE VIGREUX-FRÈRE’S GENERATION HAVE PRODUCED GRAPES ON THE FAMILY VINEYARD SINCE 1981

Terroir

Soils and climate help to make champagne unique. Limestone over chalk sub soils provide the vines with minerals and nutrition. Moisture is preserved in the soil yet excess water can drain away, and heat from the sun is stored and transferred to the roots. An average year round temperature of 10 degrees (9 degrees is the minimum to ripen) means the vines have to adapt to the dangers of frost in spring and poor weather during flowering, but these harsh conditions yield grapes of real quality. Jean-Marc’s vines are spread in small clusters of rows in various locations around the region. This is their risk management strategy to avoid damage from a freak hailstorm or frost.

Cultivation

Cultivating the vines is very labour intensive and requires skill and experience. Pruning is a particularly difficult operation and is governed by the rules which limit the yield of grapes. Fertilising is important, but unlike New Zealand, irrigation is not permitted at all.

Towards the end of September (about 100 days after the flowering of the vine) the vendange (harvest) commences. Picking is carried out by hand only, with each bunch being carefully examined. A maximum yield per hectare is fixed by regulation, making champagne grapes so special. It is difficult to overstate the fact that the quality of the champagne is firmly established by the grower in the vineyard. The winemaker subsequently reveals this quality in the bottle.

Production

The grapes are transported with great care to the press 3 kms away at Comicy. This is a state-of –the-art facility with very high quality pressing equipment, made available to smaller growers through its co-operative network.

The juice is then delivered to a large Center Vinicole de la Champagne cooperative at Chouilly near Epernay. Specially accredited scientists then assist the winemakers in producing the champagne within strict quality procedures.

First fermentation occurs in vats where the grape juice turns into still wine. Consistency in style and yearly harvests is achieved by the traditional art of blending, where wines from black and white grapes are carefully assembled together to make the cuvee. A little cane sugar and yeast is then added before it is bottled. Bubbles form during secondary fermentation in the bottle for 24 months. Riddling and disgorging is practiced to clarify the wine and remove the residual solids, before a special dosage of wine and sugar is added to replace the amount lost. The sugar content is varied according to the type of wine desired – more sugar is added for the Demi-Sec Dessert Champagne, for example.

The champagne is then delivered to the Vigreux-Frère family and shipped in a refrigerated container all the way across the sea to us here in New Zealand.

SHOP CHAMPAGNE

“We have had the absolute pleasure of dealing with Don & Leanne at Champagne Direct for well over 15 years now! Not only is the Jean Marc champagne we buy from them one of the most crowd pleasing & delicious bubbles, but it must also be one of the best value champagnes in the whole world.

We have very happily been selling it as our house champagne by the glass and bottle even before we opened Ortega. It continues to blow our minds with all it’s gorgeous gingerbread & crisp apple & light citrusy characters.

And what’s even better than the champagne itself is Don & Leanne themselves – their service is just top notch. Everything is super quick, super easy & they are just a dream to deal with.

We are proud to say they are one of our most favourite suppliers ever. Cheers!”

— DAVEY MCDONALD. ORTEGA FISH SHACK

“A day without champagne, is a waste of time!

I met Don at our BNI Group. We tasted the various offerings from the Collection available. We love the Brut, Reserve Brut and the Grande Reserve Brut. They fit our tastes perfectly.

Dealing with both Don and Leanne makes it very easy too. Very accommodating and delivery is so easy. Don will often drop the wine off to us. Hopefully the MSO Design Team don’t try it too soon as then there will be nothing left in the work fridge for me!

Dealing with nice people is just a bonus when you are getting champagne this good.

Keep up the good work Team Champagne Direct!”

— MARK WHITECLIFFE, MSO DESIGN

“We’ve used Champagne Direct for a few years to celebrate client successes and (very occasionally) apologise for our muck-ups. Don & Leanne provide a wonderful service where nothing is too hard – the present gets delivered with our branding and personal message really quickly and is always appreciated by our clients.

We were impressed by both the fantastic champagne and their ability to cope with whatever is thrown at them, so we asked them to do a major gift ship-out to our clients at Christmas time. All handled without any stress on our part and with a lot of very happy clients”.

— ANNE STEPHENSON, CONNECTED ACCOUNTANTS LIMITED

“I have used the services of Don McLean from Champagne Direct for a number of years and from the outset was impressed with the product, the ultra-friendly service and the quick turnaround in receiving my order (usually next day). The champagne is delicious – I had to try it myself after hearing from so many of my clients how good it is – and they weren’t wrong. Nothing is a problem for Don and his wife Leanne and I have really felt they care about the clients they work with. Give your clients a real treat with this great gift!”

— DIANE DAVIDSON, EVES REALTY LTD MREINZ

“We have had the pleasure of having a relationship with Champagne Direct for many years. They are our preferred providers of champagne for our High Tea services and events and offer an excellent product. We have always found them to be professional and provide an excellent service. They are proactive in reminding us prior to our High Tea service, informing us when they are away and delivery is very quick. Don and Leanne are great to work with! We would recommend them to anyone in need of champagne.”

— JULIE MCGOWAN, LE CORDON BLEU, WELLINGTON

“Champagne Direct’s exceptional service and products allow us to surprise, celebrate and delight our clients who have recently purchased or sold their homes. Over the many years of placing requests for nationwide deliveries we have never had any hiccups, deliveries are swift and efficient, and we very much appreciate Don and Leanne’s proactive and professional communications”.

— DELLA RANDALL

Champagne Direct – the name says it all. Their champagne, Jean-Marc Vigrèux-Frere – with its delicate fine bubbles supported by subtle aromas of green apple, lemon, gingerbread & nuts make this champagne the ideal pairing from aperitif to desert, commiseration to celebration. My wife and her friends drink Jean-Marc with a degree of enthusiastic regularity playing Bridge and dreaming of visiting the sun-soaked vineyards of France. For me the bright sparkle of bubbles means celebration and glamour and more often than not the distinct possibility of romance!!

The ”Direct” in the name is how Don & Leanne present and deliver their “dancing bottle with legs”. Their presentation – gift wrapping – is as gorgeous as the bottle content not to mention their attention to detail. When a proposed party was postponed because of Covid, Leanne & Don sent out a number of individually wrapped Jean-Marc champagne to my close friends all personalised with a card enclosed – AMAZING.

Champagne Direct – the name tells the story – the testimonial tells quality and the personalised service.

— GORDON “MY MEDICINE IN A BOTTLE!”

“Champagne Direct is a highly professional, customer focused and reliable business that the Zone Team are delighted to use as their one stop client gift providers. We get extremely positive feedback from our clients once they receive the gift from us and the personal touch with the gift card using our logo displayed takes Champagne Direct to another level. We can highly recommend Champagne Direct to provide the professional efficient service that they do and the team are amazing to deal with”.

— KAREN DOUCAS, ZONE LAW & ZONE IP

“My business uses Champagne Direct to send thank you gifts to franchisees to recognise and thank them when they go above and beyond generating sales in their area. I’ve been a client now for many years and cannot recommend their service enough. They keep my logo and database on hand and all I need to do is ask them to send the gifts out. The gifts look gorgeous, the champagne is just delicious and the Champagne Direct team are just brilliant!”

— DEREK LILLY, DREAM DOORS

“When looking for a corporate gift to mark any special occasion we don’t look anywhere except Champagne Direct. One call, email or text and we know Don & Leanne have everything in hand. Be it a local or out of town recipient, we can relax knowing delivery will be efficient and the packaging, including our personal message, will impress. The product itself is top-shelf, multi-award winning and we love the fact that it’s exclusive, not a supermarket special. For a trouble free, sure to please gift, we thoroughly recommend Champagne Direct”.

— PHILIP REEVE & AARON BURKE, RAY WHITE REAL ESTATE

“Here at Allen and Clarke we pride ourselves with working with many great suppliers. I have worked at Allen and Clarke for 8 years and I have dealt with Don from Champagne Direct for that long. I always receive outstanding customer service and great champagne products. I recommend Champagne Direct if you want quality, cost effectiveness and great service”.

— BOBBI HEMI-RANGIWHETU, ALLEN AND CLARKE