With less than two days to go until we launch our first Sussex Sparkling wines to the trade at Somerset House on Tuesday 24th April, I thought I’d reflect on what has been a very long, often busy, but rewarding eight years. I’ll try and keep it brief!
When Sarah encouraged me to study a degree in Wine Production at Plumpton College in 2010, I didn’t expect that we’d be here launching a sparkling wine in 2018. Firstly, we were lucky that Rathfinny Farm came up for sale. It was probably about a year or two earlier than hoped for, as I had only just started my wine making degree course! However, as soon as I saw the
The saying goes “boys and their toys”, and in this case my little eyes did light up when I saw the contraption above. A wonderful copper pot still with column and condenser to the side. You just want to stroke it and hope that it goes ‘whizz, pop, bang’ – or is that just me?
I’m in trouble as I should have written this blog last week! In fact, I feel a little bit like that all the time at the moment as there is just so much going on. I checked back and I think my last blog was in November, at harvest, and it’s made me reflect about what’s gone on in between.
With the launch of our sparkling wines next month and John Bon Jovi bringing out his own rosé, it got me thinking about the current upward trajectory of pink wine.
There’s no doubt, it’s a category that’s had its fair share of ups and downs. Typically viewed as too girly by men, and thanks to the American blush wines, too cloyingly sweet by others. I know that because if I ever used to order rosé whilst out with my friends, I’d never hear the end of it. Guys would have been very sure of themselves to withstand that level of stick that came with it. Nowadays, we tend to go all-in on a bottle of rosé, no questions asked. So, what happened?
“Clemmie thinks that a full bottle is too much for me. But I know that a half bottle is insufficient to tease my brains. An imperial pint is an ideal size for a man like me. It’s enough for two at lunch and one at dinner. It pleases everyone, even the producer.”
We agreed and in 2015 we made the decision to produce 800 bottles of our Blanc de Noirs in a ‘Modern Pint’ 50cl bottle. We had to search the continent for the bottle, but eventually found a bottle manufacturer in France who produced a 50cl sparkling wine bottle. We only used 800 (a pallet load) of these dark green bottles because legally in Europe you can only sell sparkling wine in 37.5cl, 75cl bottles and multiples of 75cl.
Many aspects of our daily lives are focused on achieving some sort of balance. Balancing obligations at work and home, our diets, our accounts or if you’re anything like me – balancing the washing up next to the kitchen sink like the leaning tower of Pisa. In the vineyard, when we talk about ‘vine balance’ we’re focused on the relationship between the leaves, shoots, roots and fruit on the vines. However, what determines ‘balance’ can differ depending on the climate, variety and even wine style which means it can be hard to define – that’s why we’ve been recording pruning weights this year.
I love these cold, clear, crisp mornings where I am up early and out with Spike for a walk around the vines. It’s so amazing just how quick the vineyard team are pruning and tying back the vines ready for the year ahead. It’s also amazing to see the early morning sunrise. The picture below was taken by the Flint Barns this week – what a stunning view to wake up to!
It is a hugely exciting year for all of us at Rathfinny, as I’m sure you are aware we are releasing our first Sussex Sparkling wines this year and I for one can’t wait. It’s what we’ve all been working toward these past few years and the time is nearly here.
After eight years of toil, in both the Vineyard and the Winery we are now just months away from releasing our first Sussex Sparkling wines. This week we passed a major milestone as we ‘disgorged’ the first wines to be released. The act of removing the yeast and finally putting a cork in the bottle means that all we need to do now is label the bottles and they’ll be ready to go.
Wine and food-matching is like sex and pizza, even when its bad, it’s still pretty good. Wish I could claim that quote, but unfortunately wine expert Mike Oldman beat me to the punch.
What I will say is that wine and food pairing is an art-form, books have been and are continued to be written about it. It’s a riddle, with basis in science yet subjective, with no right and wrong answers but a rule book longer than your arm. There is so much to learn yet it relies on our natural instinct. A complete contradiction, in other words!