It’s been another busy week at Rathfinny. We took delivery of three new 58,000-litre blending tanks (each double the size of a petrol tanker), a further four new fermentation tanks, and two bottling tanks, ready for harvest this year and bottling next month.
They look rather nice now, in situ, but it was a slight shock when they arrived and we hoped that we’d measured the width of the entrance correctly! Jonathan Médard our winemaker was sweating a little more than the others, but they just squeezed in with an inch (2.5cms) to spare on either side… A perfectly designed winery. Well done to all concerned.
Osmosis is usually the movement of a solvent through a semi permeable membrane from a less concentrated solution into a more concentrated one. In wine making they may refer to reverse osmosis which is a technique sometimes used to reduce the alcohol in a wine without altering the fruit flavours or profile. For the purpose of this blog I am taking neither of these definitions and I am using the term to reflect the gradual assimilation of ideas or knowledge – and I promise this blog will get ‘lighter’ (thank goodness I hear you cry!)
It’s my usual springtime blog post. Complaining about the weather and musing about planting.
To be fair we’ve had quite a good run weather wise. Mid-20’s Celcius at the end of April is fine by me, it’d just be nice if it stayed for longer than a couple of days. It’s just the wind this past weekend, can we please have less of that? The planting team looked like they’d been sandblasted!
We’re delighted and a little excited to announce that our new wines, a Blanc de Noirs from 2015 and our Rosé 2016 will be launched to the trade at an event at the fabulous Ritz hotel next Wednesday 1st May and will go on general sale through our UK agent Gonzalez Byass (UK) from 1st June.
These wines, together with our 2014 Blanc de Blancs, will be available by the glass throughout the Ritz hotel for the month
We’re trying to be as ‘sustainable’ as we can. We’ve adopted various practices across the estate to reduce our carbon footprint and reduce our impact on the natural environment, and Decanter magazine reported our ambition to be one of ‘the greenest’ wine producers in the world. But what do we mean by sustainable and what can you do to be environmentally sensitive when consuming wine?
We are so proud of our young chef, Charlie, who at just 21 has been nominated as one of three Grand Finalists in the Sussex Young Chef of the Year award. I spent some time with him understanding just how much work he had put in, in creating his spring menu for the Master Chef style competition, where he really wanted to showcase Sussex produce. Just reading his menu makes me hungry!
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.
What wine would you recommend with the dish?
By the Glass: Sharpham Pinot Noir
By the Bottle: Beronia Gran Reserva
After what seems like years in the making, we are very excited as our new building, Phase 2 now called Bottling, has been filled with brand new shiny equipment.