Sussex is one of the oldest and largest counties in England. It was divided into two districts (West and East) in 1832, and today Sussex has the largest cluster of vineyards in the UK with over 600ha planted and over 40 wine producers.
Sussex Sparkling wine is crafted in the Traditional Method, where the secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle, after which it is left to age on the yeast lees for a minimum of 15 months to develop wonderful autolytic notes. On occasion, some fermentation and/or ageing takes place in oak barrels to develop even more complexity.
Our Sussex wine is produced in Rathfinny’s state-of-the-art Winery, which sits at the heart of the Estate, with panoramic views across the Vineyard and the South Downs. Rathfinny aims to sell half of its Sussex Sparkling wines to overseas markets in Europe, Asia and North America.
The establishment of a Sussex wine PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) ensures that Sussex wines will continue to be considered amongst the very best in the world. The tighter rules reflect the quality of wine made in Sussex, ensuring provenance and quality.
The Sussex PDO introduced a stricter set of rules regarding both viticulture and winemaking, they include:
- Limiting the grape varieties that can be used in Sussex sparkling wines
- Demanding higher natural alcohol levels prior to harvest
- Longer bottle ageing of the sparkling wines
- Higher analytical standards such as lower Sulphur Dioxide, Copper and Volatile Acidity levels.
Sussex wines also have to pass a Qualitative Assessment, run by an independent tasting panel. Post disgorgement the wines are assessed for colour and clarity, bubble characteristics, aroma and taste. Each wine must pass all sections and score a minimum of 12 or more out of 20 to qualify as a Sussex wine.
Single variety wines must contain at least 90% of the stated variety - Blanc de Blancs will contain at least 90% Chardonnay. Blanc de Noirs will similarly contain no less than 90% as a combination of either Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier. Vintage wine must contain 85% of the wine from that nominated year.
The Sussex PDO is a sign of provenance and quality.
“The launch of Rathfinny’s new sparklers was a highlight of 2018; this maiden release blanc de blancs is highly sophisticated, 100 per cent chardonnay with fresh citrus and gorgeous rich creaminess.”
–Susy Atkins, Stella Magazine
“The first two sparkling wines are going to be good - very good in fact. I think a lot of people would actually struggle to tell these wines apart from Champagne. I’d say they are onto a winner.”
–Alice Lascelles, How to Spend It
“Rathfinny has it all. It’s at once a delightful getaway destination amid the rolling South Downs, a first- class example of the power of locally sourced cuisine and, above all, a state-of-the-art winery showcasing the best of British winemaking and engineering, reinforcing the country’s status on the viticultural stage one bottle at a time. With wine this good, it’s only a matter of time before you too will likely be saying those words: ‘No thanks, I’ll have a Sussex.’”
–Gabriel Power, The Week