With the launch of our sparkling wines next month and John Bon Jovi bringing out his own rosé, it got me thinking about the current upward trajectory of pink wine.
There’s no doubt, it’s a category that’s had its fair share of ups and downs. Typically viewed as too girly by men, and thanks to the American blush wines, too cloyingly sweet by others. I know that because if I ever used to order rosé whilst out with my friends, I’d never hear the end of it. Guys would have been very sure of themselves to withstand that level of stick that came with it. Nowadays, we tend to go all-in on a bottle of rosé, no questions asked. So, what happened?
“Clemmie thinks that a full bottle is too much for me. But I know that a half bottle is insufficient to tease my brains. An imperial pint is an ideal size for a man like me. It’s enough for two at lunch and one at dinner. It pleases everyone, even the producer.”
We agreed and in 2015 we made the decision to produce 800 bottles of our Blanc de Noirs in a ‘Modern Pint’ 50cl bottle. We had to search the continent for the bottle, but eventually found a bottle manufacturer in France who produced a 50cl sparkling wine bottle. We only used 800 (a pallet load) of these dark green bottles because legally in Europe you can only sell sparkling wine in 37.5cl, 75cl bottles and multiples of 75cl.
Many aspects of our daily lives are focused on achieving some sort of balance. Balancing obligations at work and home, our diets, our accounts or if you’re anything like me – balancing the washing up next to the kitchen sink like the leaning tower of Pisa. In the vineyard, when we talk about ‘vine balance’ we’re focused on the relationship between the leaves, shoots, roots and fruit on the vines. However, what determines ‘balance’ can differ depending on the climate, variety and even wine style which means it can be hard to define – that’s why we’ve been recording pruning weights this year.
I love these cold, clear, crisp mornings where I am up early and out with Spike for a walk around the vines. It’s so amazing just how quick the vineyard team are pruning and tying back the vines ready for the year ahead. It’s also amazing to see the early morning sunrise. The picture below was taken by the Flint Barns this week – what a stunning view to wake up to!
It is a hugely exciting year for all of us at Rathfinny, as I’m sure you are aware we are releasing our first Sussex Sparkling wines this year and I for one can’t wait. It’s what we’ve all been working toward these past few years and the time is nearly here.
After eight years of toil, in both the Vineyard and the Winery we are now just months away from releasing our first Sussex Sparkling wines. This week we passed a major milestone as we ‘disgorged’ the first wines to be released. The act of removing the yeast and finally putting a cork in the bottle means that all we need to do now is label the bottles and they’ll be ready to go.
Wine and food-matching is like sex and pizza, even when its bad, it’s still pretty good. Wish I could claim that quote, but unfortunately wine expert Mike Oldman beat me to the punch.
What I will say is that wine and food pairing is an art-form, books have been and are continued to be written about it. It’s a riddle, with basis in science yet subjective, with no right and wrong answers but a rule book longer than your arm. There is so much to learn yet it relies on our natural instinct. A complete contradiction, in other words!
Nowadays, I can’t take a bite of my meal without snapping it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter first. I’m passive-aggressively outraged if a dining companion tucks into their starter while I’m still trying to find my best lighting. The #nofilters photo of my Eggs Florentine at an Insta-friendly cafe, which only took 110 dry-runs to get right, followed by #blessed and the praying-hands emoji…is the depressing reality of where it’s all come to. Bear with me, it gets more cheerful.
Putting together the invitee list for our big Rathfinny launch in London, now set for April 2018 (available to purchase in June), got me thinking. It struck me that if this is to go off with a #bang, we’d need to invite some influencers along. Only thing is, I had no idea what influencers were, where they lived, what they did, was I one? I then realised, neither of my twitter followers had ever retweeted any of my posts, so I couldn’t be.
Somewhere in the world it must be time for a gin. It would appear that the rise in popularity of micro breweries and artisan beers has made way for a wave of gin.
Those from Sussex may have seen our glorious white gin bottles in local stores, bars or hotels. Named after the iconic Seven Sisters but gin from these parts is not a new phenomenon. The land that folds over the top of the Seven Sisters cliffs between Seaford and Birling Gap is knows as Crowlink. Genuine Crowlink Gin was the drink in the 1800s in London. It was illegally imported gin which could be legally sold over the bar. Many landlords even resorted to placing the word Crowlink on their barrels as pure PR to improve sales, even if it wasn’t the real deal. The smuggling trade was of huge importance in this part of East Sussex and many of the larger houses that adorn the landscape have been ‘funded’ from the illegal import of alcohol. Ours is not illegal but we do hope it continues to be the gin to drink!
Is it fair or wise to penalise a British industry that is growing and taking on the world? Would we charge higher taxes on Whisky or Scottish woolens than on Vodka or Chinese jumpers? Would we charge higher VAT on British made luxury cars than lower priced ones?
So why do we charge higher rates of Excise Duty on sparkling wine than still wine in the UK?
It’s a little-known fact that we pay 28% more of Excise Duty per bottle on sparkling wine than on still wine – £2.74 and ‘just’ £2.16 respectively. Plus VAT of 20% …
I say ‘just’ because in the rest of Europe Excise Duty on wine is generally 8-10p per bottle! It’s cheaper to buy most wines, even English
We’ve finished our harvest and it was completely wonderful. Not only did we have a bumper crop, over twice what was harvested last year, but we had so many other things to celebrate. As Mark mentioned in a previous blog we had a super team of local pickers come and join us. Mark was away the first morning of harvest so it fell to me to do a rousing, welcoming speech.