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Saturday 1 May 2021

Two Rathfinny Wines

A brace of English fizzes from Sussex-based Rathfinny

Mark and Sarah Driver, owners of Sussex winery Rathfinney, are not short on vision - as they explain on their website:

Our ambition is that in twenty years’ time you will walk into a bar or restaurant in New York or Beijing and you’ll be asked, “Would you like a glass of Champagne or a delicious glass of Sussex? I can recommend Rathfinny.”

Based on these two wines, that is not an unreasonable expectation; the quality is in no doubt, so the only challenge that remains is raising awareness.

How it all began - The Rathfinny vision

Mark and Sarah Driver established the Rathfinny wine estate in 2010 on a working arable farm with the express intention of producing some of the world’s finest quality sparkling wines. 

Their vision is about a great deal more than the production of outstanding Sussex sparkling wine. Rathfinny aims to contribute something special to the unique spirit of place in this beautiful part of the South Downs, which has been farmed since medieval times.

Where it all began - The perfect location

The estate is located on the same band of chalk that forms the Paris basin, running from northern France into southern England. This breath-taking south-facing slope in the south downs of Sussex is one of England’s exceptional natural landscapes. The climate, chalk, soil and aspect make it the perfect site for producing world-class sparkling wine.

Once a working arable farm in the South Downs of Sussex, Rathfinny’s first 50 acres of vines were planted in April 2012. All the grapes come from their single-site vineyard of 385,000 vines across 230 acres with plans to increase this to 350 acres eventually.

There are three principal grape varieties; Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier as well as a small amount of Pinot Gris. The vines are set out on an ideal south-facing slope, just three miles from the English Channel where the unique local micro-climate and the free-draining chalky soils create superb grape-growing conditions.

Classic Cuvee 2017, Sussex (£29.00 at Harvey Nichols during May)

Made from a blend of predominantly Pinot Noir with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, aged for 36 months in the bottle. 

Red fruits, yeasty brioche and autolysis on the nose; ripe redcurrant and wild strawberry fruit with citrus and orchard fruits. Creamy and complex; precise and harmonious, supple yet linear and intense with flawless, complex underpinnings.

Improves with aeration; will age.

Very Good.

Serve as an aperitif or match with fish and chips, grilled prawn linguini or a home-cooked chicken pie.

Rathfinny match this wine with potato gnocchi, wild mushrooms, sage and pine nuts in their Flint Barns Dining Room restaurant.

Blanc de Blancs Brut 2017, Sussex

Frothy with citrus-sherbet, white flowers and honeysuckle; orchard fruits, brioche and creamy brazil nut and oatmeal savouriness; precise, linear and structured yet rich and rounded. Concentrated, intense and mineral 

Improves with aeration; will age.

Very Good Indeed.

Drink as an aperitif or match with seafood from oysters to langoustine in butter sauce or twice-baked cheese souffle.

Other reviews of Classic Cuvee

Jamie Goode: This is pure and focussed. It’s all about fruit, with precision and intensity. Zesty, citrussy, with hints of cherries and pear fruit – Jamie Goode, WineAnorak.com

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