2017 is not going so well for many producers. If you read Cameron’s last blog you‘ll have heard that severe frost affected many parts of France, such as the Languedoc, Bordeaux, Chablis, Jura and Champagne regions. Losses are up to 90% of the harvest to come, which is obviously heartbreaking. England was not spared and some producers suffered significant damage too. It reminded me of the role of reserve wines.
This week has been quite a week for the vineyard. The weather has been a bit of everything; we’ve had sun (always welcome in Spring) rain (which we needed after such a dry month) hail (which we can do without thanks) snow (not now thanks) and the worst of all frost (never welcome)
In the Vineyard budburst is well under way and the vine leaves are unfurling and elsewhere on the Estate wildlife is really awakening. The opening image is just a snapshot of a few bee species found on our Trail. The blossom is a great early source of nutrition for so many species and I would really encourage you to take a peek.
With the longer evenings and the hint of warmer weather it’s a reminder that the festival season is almost upon us. We are definitely not on the scale of some of the more established festivals, but even so we have the pleasure of co-sponsoring Alfest again this July along with The Star and Long Man Brewery.
It’s Friday 7th April and what a glorious day it is! The weather forecast indicates it’s going to be a great weekend which is perfect for us and our guests at the Flint Barns. We have a 50th birthday celebration here this weekend with the local band Kindred Spirt playing both nights along with a big BBQ on Saturday night. The Flint Barns are the ideal location for these kind of events – if you are interested then contact our events team on firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
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.
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
We’re just about half-way through pruning, which is pretty good going considering we’re just at the end of January.
We’ve been lucky and have had a marvellous run with the weather during this month; lots of cold frosty days that make for perfect pruning weather.
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.