Rathfinny Wine Estate

Crystals in your wine sir?

As Mark and I are planning a visit to Champagne soon to look at bottling, disgorging and labelling equipment, I am still wondering what method and which equipment I will be using to “cold stabilise” the wines, to ensure that tartrate crystals do not appear. Remember, crystals in a sparkling wine usually mean that as you open the bottle you’ll lose half of it because it’s going to gush.

Previously we looked at electro-dialysis, which, in my opinion, is a proven, efficient method (colleagues around the world agree). The machine is quite simple to use, and as long as it is properly set up, it should function without problem. One downfall to this method, however, is that it requires a lot of water.

Nowadays, more than ever, wineries are dedicated to act responsibly and in a sustainable way. Sustainability involves water conservation. England might not be suffering from an enduring drought as California has lately, but water is still a resource that needs to be used sensibly. Electro-dialysis also requires energy in order to run (i.e. electricity).

More and more, producers are now using CMC (Carboxymethyl Cellulose) for cold stabilisation. It is cellulose gum, which is a natural compound originally found in wood’s cellulose.

If you are conscientious about what you ingest, you might have seen the food additive E466 somewhere on a label. That’s CMC, used as a thickener and emulsifier—possibly in other ways too.

CMC, after bench trials in the lab, gets added to the wine and modifies the structure of the crystals, inhibiting further crystallisation. Thus far, it has proven to be quite efficient, provided that proper testing of both the composition of the wine and the amount of CMC to add was adequately performed.

CMC may well prove an effective, cost efficient, alternative to electro-dialysis for the cold stabilisation of sparkling wine—I am eager to test this as soon as we can.

Jonathan Médard – Winemaker

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Classical Music at Rathfinny – London Concord Ensemble

I am so excited about our latest venture at Rathfinny. I have always seen a real link between wine and the arts and am therefore delighted to announce that the London ‘supergroup,’ London Conchord Ensemble, http://www.conchord.co.uk have agreed to become our resident chamber ensemble.

For their debut here, we are presenting an exciting Gala evening of sparkling wine and music, in our brand new Winery set in the heart of the vineyard, the full details of which you’ll find here  – http://www.rathfinnyestate.com/events/

Winery and Vineyard

I have worked closely with world famous oboist, Emily Pailthorpe, to put this all together. We went to see her great friends, David and Mary Bowerman, who have established one of Britain’s most prestigious chamber music venues and recording hall, Champs Hill. Mary was a wealth of advice and knowledge and kindly treated us to lunch. We were invited to sit in on part of an afternoon recording session, surrounded by exquisite art, and it brought home to me how magical live classical music can be. Mark, Emily and I completed our concert hall tour by visiting Douglas and Miranda Patterson who put on concerts at Cranbourne Farm and they too, were so helpful. Both visits opened our eyes to what was possible at Rathfinny.

The thought of being able to host world-class music in our Winery was tantalising but we still didn’t know if the acoustics would work. So it was with some nervousness that we stood back and waited as Emily unpacked her oboe, stood in front of the picture window overlooking the vines and then began to play. I can only describe the effect of her music floating to the high winery roof as spine tingling. We are in for a real treat when she plays here as part of the London Concord Ensemble. There was a collective “Hurrah!” to the Winery’s beautiful acoustics!

Looking ahead, the plan is for Conchord to present a weekend festival of chamber music every June. Ideas are already afoot for celebrating famous local composers, wine themed programmes, a collaboration to commemorate the ties between Bloomsbury and music, educational workshops for the young and also guest performances by some of classical music’s most dynamic stars. Watch this space for a full programme soon.

In the meantime, we really look forward to seeing you at our first major event – come and be part of it and enjoy a a feast of chamber music whilst you sup a class of English sparkling wine, standing on the balcony of our brand new Winery, on the 11th June.

Sarah Driver

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Huge progress at Rathfinny

So I have to admit, I’ve been away on holiday sailing in the Caribbean. Many of you will be aware that last year I fulfilled a lifelong ambition and sailed across the Atlantic. As our boat was in the Caribbean it seemed foolish not go and explore the islands, so over the last few weeks we explored the islands of Antigua, St.Kitts, Nevis and Barbuda. We returned on Monday and drove through Sussex under bright blue skies to see what had happened at the Rathfinny Wine Estate.

Planting above the Flint Barns

Whilst away, Cameron oversaw the planting of a further 70,000 vines to the west of the Flint Barns. They look fantastic and the warm spring weather has led to an early bud-burst, as the vines break into life for the year.

Bud Burst 2014

The temporary windbreaks have already proved their worth. The trees in the shelter belts are thriving (see the picture above), and you can see a real difference in the vines, especially those closest to the windbreaks.

As you may have read in a recent blog by Richard James we are now working with the universities of Lincoln (NZ) and Sussex to develop the right biodiversity within the vineyard to help reduce disease risk and increase beneficial insects. Richard is also overseeing the building of the new entrance which has really moved on and is nearly at the road. We will all be pleased when we no longer have to deal with a 1:3 gradient on a blind corner!

Work on the Flint Barns has been very impressive – our contractor, Cardy’s, was held up by the poor weather earlier this year, but they are now working flat out to try and complete the building in time to the accommodate seasonal workers needed for our expected harvest this year.

Happy Easter to all – enjoy the spring weather and don’t grumble about the rain, we need that as well!

Mark Driver

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