Drink your Words

By Rob Buckhaven, Rathfinny Brand Ambassador

Coinciding with the launch of his new book, The Alcorithm, Rathfinny Brand Ambassador, award-winning drinks writer and king of tasting notes, Rob Buckhaven, recommends the perfect food pairings to enjoy with Rathfinny sparkling wines during the festive season.

What a frantic few weeks it’s been, in a good way, with the launch of our new vintage Rathfinny Rosé 2018 and the publication of my debut book, The Alcorithm. Did I mention my book?

It’s actually a seamless link, as our Classic Cuvée 2017 has now undergone almost an additional year in bottle and is showing more savoury, developed notes. Meanwhile, our brand new Rosé 2018 has stylistically returned to that ‘Wimbledon-in-a-glass’ flavour profile of wild strawberries and Chantilly cream, reminiscent of our early releases, and well, my book is all about the flavours found in drinks.

Now, far be it from me to dwell on my book as I know this post is primarily about Rathfinny Sussex Sparkling wines, but I’ll briefly take you through why I wrote The Alcorithm. For someone as obsessed with drinks flavours as I am, as anyone at Rathfinny will tell you, the opportunity to write a book on the subject was too good to be passed up. To contextualise, I also write the tasting notes for our sparkling wine labels and manage to conjure up florid descriptors of ‘mock orange’, ‘Japanese wineberries’ and ‘fennel pollen’. ‘Floral’, ‘fruity’ and ‘spicy’ just won’t cut it for me. Don’t get me started on the ‘luminescent saffron’ appearance of our latest Classic Cuvée, or we’ll be here for hours!

So, we’ve learnt that I’ve always been a frustrated writer with overdramatic tendencies, but whether I’m banging on about wild strawberry notes in sparkling rosé or truffle-adjacent flavours found in aged Pinot Noir-dominated fizz, I wanted to get to the bottom of how these notes came to be in the first place and how on earth they made their way into wine, spirits, beer or any other beverage for that matter.

Rob Buckhaven Pouring Wine at Hedonism
The Alcorithm Book Flatlay

Classic Cuvée 2017

With that in mind, let’s take our Rathfinny Classic Cuvée 2017, a joyful vintage wine with three-years lees ageing from a dramatic year where a Europe-wide spring frost almost jeopardised the harvest, were it not for the clever vine positioning by our Vineyard Manger, Cameron Roucher, along with our unique microclimate and proximity to the sea. Flavour-wise, we use a small proportion of our second grape pressing in this blend, which I always feel beckons in a Christmas-spiced profile of cinnamon, clove, ginger and star anise. In a balanced way, mind, meshing beautifully with the baked plum and almond brittle nuances that have become apparent from extended bottle ageing. These additional salted caramel and warm spiced nuances make for an even better pairing with the smorgasbord of flavours on our festive table, with a particular affinity for herb-crusted stuffing, glazed gammon and roast chestnuts.

2017 Classic Cuvee Winter Canapes

Classic Cuvée

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Rosé 2018

Now, over to the fresh-as-a-daisy side of the flavour spectrum for our recently released Rathfinny Rosé Brut 2018. It was three years ago this sparkling gave us our first ever listing, as the Savoy Hotel’s English sparkling offering with afternoon tea during the Royal wedding. We couldn’t have been prouder, especially when Harry and Megan were announced as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The 2018 ‘vintage of the decade’ majored on notes that I have described as “a nose of Seville orange cream, a vibrant palate of wild strawberry coulis and candied mandarin zest with a white pepper and satsuma sherbet finish”. The high proportion of Pinot Noir in the blend, coupled with a year’s less ageing makes those primary flavours leap out of the glass and practically drink themselves for us.

Now, I may have taken that last part of the last sentence from The Alcorithm, available at all great bookshops nationwide, but what I don’t mention is that our Rosé 2018 is a belter with bright, fresh flavours of salmon; smoked, baked, en croute or in a soup with ginger and rice, carrying a levelling lick of chilli heat. I’m saving that for book-two…

Rathfinny Sussex Sparkling 2018 Rose with Winter Roulade

Rosé 2018

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 The Alcorithm – A revolutionary flavour guide to find the drinks you’ll love.

A joyful, thoughtful labyrinth in which you can happily lose yourself for hours – The Telegraph

For a chance to win one of three signed copies of Rob’s new book, The Alcorithm, simply fill in the form below to sign up to the Rathfinny newsletter where you can stay up to date with information about our latest wine releases, brought to life with Rob’s unique and wonderful descriptions. If you have already signed up to our newsletter, please submit your details again so you can be in with a chance of winning.

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The winner will be contacted via email on Monday 13th December.