On Friday 8th March I hosted International Women’s Day at the Tasting Room Restaurant and I was delighted (relieved!) to see that we had sold out. There was the fear of being ‘Norma No Mate’s’ on the day. Delicious food from our Michelin starred chef, Chris Bailey, as usual. If you haven’t been for lunch yet, served Wednesdays to Sundays, or to our tasting menu on Fridays and Saturdays, you’re missing out!
We asked Mark & Marcin, our Flint Barns chefs, their ingredient of the month for February…
Why rhubarb? Forced New Seasons Rhubarb is just coming into season and is a real treat at this time of the year. It is the first British fruit of the year and is tender with a beautiful pink colour and delicate flavour.
Where do you source it from? Forced New Seasons Rhubarb is traditionally sourced from the “Yorkshire Triangle” using traditional harvesting methods.
Last week, I was prepping for a staff training at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, doing a dry run in front of the mirror, as one does. It wasn’t just an excuse for some ‘mirror-time’, I do it because it pays to be polished as these prestigious restaurants have huge sommelier teams, all with varying levels of knowledge.
We have avoided getting involved in the whole Brexit debate as we have various opinions here at Rathfinny, probably echoing the rest of the country, and lately, it’s become quite a polarising issue. Group polarisation, discussed by Daniel Finkelstein in The Times last week, has taken over with each side holding more and more extreme views. However, we run a new and expanding English wine business and, as we move ever closer to the 29th March, I thought that I should share the concerns we have of exiting the EU without a deal. But, before you all start shouting at your screen, let me say that I’m not trying to make a political statement, what I’m trying to explain with this blog are the very real, practical issues that we may face in a no-
An early start on Monday was required to catch the train to the beautiful city of York to present our wines to a fantastic group of restaurants from all points North.
Our gathering was hosted by Yorkshire Vintners, our regional distributor, and Gonzalez Byass(UK), our national distributor, at the fabulous Roots restaurant in the heart of York. Tommy Banks’ (he of Great British Menu fame) food was spectacular and the reception to our wines was very pleasing.
Pruning is all about balance, the delicate balance between fruit load and shoot growth.
In basic terms, we’re training and directing the growth of the vine for the coming season. Pruning allows us to manipulate the potential quantity, and quality of fruit produced. Following a season like the one we’ve just had, this is all the more important.
2018 was quite a year for UK vineyards, often touted as the ‘biggest and best’ yet. In France, they’d call it a Millésime, a proper ‘Vintage’. This is great but the ongoing effects of a season like we’ve just had can have far-reaching consequences.
We asked Chris Bailey, our Tasting Room Head Chef, his ingredient of the month in January…
Why Southdown Lamb? We use the best quality produce we can source from as close to the Estate as possible. This lamb has great flavour and it’s really good to be able to use lamb which is bred on the same ridge of land that Rathfinny sits on, on the South Downs.
Where do you source it from?Saddlescomb Farm
Best cooking tip? Rest the lamb well after cooking before carving.
Favourite dish you use it in? Roast Saddlescomb lamb loin, sweetbreads, barley, turnip and braised lettuce.
Launching a brand is how I imagine parenthood to be, you lay all the groundwork for the birth, but nothing can prepare you for the reality once it’s been born.
As any new parent would be, at Rathfinny we’re proud of our offspring and count ourselves super lucky with how the first five post-launch months have gone. We’ve brought into the world two beautiful sparkling wines that have been well received and have some fantastic trade partners to share them with.
Initially, we had an irrational fear that the expectation Rathfinny had generated over the years up until the launch might be tricky to live up to, but luckily, we had top journalists and trade figures saying, “wow, thank goodness I like it, it would have been awkward if not!”. Glowing write-ups abounded, which was also the case overseas.
Sometimes a year will come along that is quite unlike any other. 2018 is one of those years.
Following last year’s fine weather at flowering the potential crop this year was always going to be good in terms of yield, little did we know we would have one of the warmest summers on record. What this meant for us, and the UK wine industry in general, is that we had a large crop that was able to ripen to ideal levels for our Sussex Sparkling wines. When I say a large crop this is relative, the UK has consistently low yields compared to other grape growing regions, which is due to weather events; late spring frost, poor flowering weather, and (generally) cool summers.
We started harvesting in glorious sunshine on Monday and what a harvest we have this year.
The vineyard really benefited from the warm dry weather we experienced in May, June, and July. Flowering was really great and the fruit set is superb. As we had so little rain in those early summer months we had very low disease pressure so the fruit is very clean, ripe and has fantastic flavours.
Within the grounds of a former tea plantation, concealed in a corner of the Ngong Ping plateau, in sight of the Big Buddha, Sarah Driver is retracing her childhood. In the 1960s, she and her brothers, Robert and Ian, were the only European children living on Hong Kong’s Lantau Island.