The quality of last year’s harvest was fantastic: A perfect balance of flavours, sugar levels and acidity. The wines were a bit “difficult” to work with, for example, the malolactic fermentation has taken longer than usual. However, at last it has now been completed through all the lots, and whilst we get the wines ready for bottling by fining and stabilising the wines, we have also started to work on the blends. It’s a very exciting moment in the year of a winemaker.
As the opening image illustrates, winter is slowly moving into spring. The vines have finished their work for the time being and now receive their annual hair cut and my Estate vehicle requires the adornment of the obligatory bobble hat.
So what do you do with what the French call Rebêche, the third pressing of grapes?
After we’ve taken the first pressing, the Cuvée, which is high in sugars and acids and comes from the pulp of the grapes and the second pressing, or the Taille, which is much richer but can be lower in acidity and sugars, you’re then left with the third pressing (the Rebêche), when you turn up the pressure and squeeze out the juice left in the grapes nearest to the skin and the grape pips.
The Rebêche is much coarser than the Taille and I have to admit that for the last three years I thought Jonathan was saying “that’s the rubbish”! Anyway, back to the point – what do you do with the Rebêche?
Well this year Rathfinny sent it off to be distilled. We spoke to a friendly gin distillery near Guildford and they’ve blended our grape spirit with a grain spirit. We chose nine botanicals and we’ve made what we feel is a great ‘classic’ gin.
We’ve called it ‘Seven Sisters Gin’ after the magnificent chalk cliffs that border the English Channel between Eastbourne and Seaford that mark the beginning of the South Downs. Do get to try it soon. It’s rather special but we’ve only got a few bottles to sell, so be quick! Before long, we hope you’ll be able to enjoy a “Sisters and Tonic” or a “Sisters on Ice” at your local pub, club or restaurant. Or of course you can buy it directly from the Gun Room and mix it yourself. Cheers!
Available to buy from the Gun Room from the 7th March.
Rathfinny Wine Estate, here in ‘sunny’ Sussex is nestled in Cradle Valley which lends its name to our still wine. Mark, our chef here on the Estate, recently travelled to a place described by Mark Twain as the “cradle of the human race” – India. We felt we should hand this weeks blog over to him.
I have just returned from a road trip through the heart of India to raise awareness and cash for the Teenage Cancer Trust. This is my report from the Dumball Rally 2017. The idea was to borrow some ancient Mahindra Jeeps from some very nervous owners and drive around 2,000 km in 8 days through the heart of rural India. There followed a fantastic adventure across one of the most amazing countries this planet has to offer.
Some years ago when studying wine making at Plumpton College I read about Light Strike. It’s a wine fault that’s been known about for some time and it’s the reason why we chose to bottle our wine in dark, antique green coloured bottles. Now we hear that a certain supermarket is planning to do something about it and will soon stop stocking wine in clear glass bottles. So is light ruining wines?
There are several common wine faults, the most talked about is cork spoilage. This affects about one bottle in
I am late with this blog and in trying to justify this, I am relying on some thinking I have been doing over the New Year period, that in fact started before with our visit to India.
I decided to switch off from all emails and even from the news whilst we were away. I haven’t done that for over 10 years and it was quite a revelation. Somehow things that seemed so very urgent, suddenly weren’t and it was quite true to say ‘I lived in the moment’. I actually stared aimlessly out of the window while we drove, read my book before I slept and when I woke up (as I used to do as a child) instead of checking my ipad and generally found myself reflecting in an aimless, yet I’m sure, useful way.
A couple of weeks ago I had a new experience at Rathfinny. I came along as a ‘client’ to our very first yoga retreat, arriving at the Flint Barns in the early afternoon on Friday to be greeted by a delicious smoothie as I met the others who had decided that they too, needed a weekend away. There were 9 of us in total, a mix of local people and a couple who had made the journey all the way from Belgium, as well as my 17 year old son who decided he too needed an ‘escape’ from his A level revision.
Instead of the usual musings on the weather, and what is going on in the vineyard it was suggested that I write about my Nuffield Farming Scholarship.
So what’s it all about?
The Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust award approximately 20 individuals each year with the opportunity to research topics of interest in either farming, food, horticulture and rural industries, or to certain individuals who are in a position to influence these rural industries.
The majority of must/juice from our recent harvest has completed alcoholic fermentation. Now, we wait for our malolactic bacteria culture to be ready, so that we may use it to inoculate all the tanks so that they undergo malolactic fermentation, to soften the acids, which we expect to be completed early in the New Year.
We are often asked why we use commercial yeast rather than just letting indigenous (or native) yeasts naturally do the work. There are various reasons why we use commercial yeast.
I’m Rob, Brand Ambassador for Rathfinny. I’m the new kid on the block (wine pun) as I’ve only been in the role for two months, but I already feel very much part of the Rathfinny family.
People ask me what a Brand Ambassador does. In a nutshell, it’s about creating a buzz around the brand, making top Sommeliers drool in anticipation of our sparkling launch in 2018. Then it’s setting the strategy, whipping the distributor into shape and promoting, to become the most successful English sparkling on the market.
We have a very happy winemaker (someone even heard him singing), an equally happy vineyard manager and delighted owners.
2016 marked the year of our first major harvest, as the first vines that we planted in 2012 start to yield grapes. Our harvest this year has been superb. The flavours have been great – someone had told me that you can get fantastic flavours from very young vines when they produce their first crop, it’s certainly true this year. However, it was the yield and overall quality that impressed the most.
As we started harvest on Monday, I was thinking about our workforce. I always say our team, now about 30 people, are our greatest asset. Everyone, and I mean everyone who works at Rathfinny, comes to work genuinely engaged in their job and, best of all, seemingly proud and committed to be working there. I love it.
It’s always been important to us to build a local workforce and despite some scepticism from some quarters, we seem to be achieving just that. It has been hard and we’ve had a few false starts, but now we are building up a team of local people who come not only to harvest in October, but to prune in January/February.