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Rathfinny Estate

There's a new generation of English wineries that are really raising the bar. Tasting these current releases, it's easy to see why Rathfinny Estate has burst to such prominence after only a handful of vintages. Each of their wines does its job perfectly. The Classic Cuvee is a superb all-rounder, the Blanc de Blancs is cerebral, the Blanc de Noirs is a fine dining experience and the rose seduces the senses. 

Neal Martin reckons this could be England's best Blanc de Noirs and he's not alone, it featured as only the 2nd non-Champagne, ever to be Sparkling Wine of the Month at The Ritz.

2017 Classic Cuvee

£103.00 per 6 Bot Case, in bond
£144.18 Duty & VAT paid

£150.00 per 3 Mag Case, in bond
£200.58 Duty & VAT paid

This has an impressively vigorous, fine mousse. The nose is complex, vibrant and fresh. Aromas of elderflower white peach and redcurrant, to name but a few. The palate is extraordinarily layered and complex for such a modestly priced wine; it would be easy to believe this were something far grander. Golden gooseberry, lemon curd and fresh ginger flavours are prominent. The emphasis here is not so much on power as elegance, subtlety and nuance. The long and tapering finish keeps the drinker engaged to the last. It's soft enough to suit most palates but also sophisticated to a degree that will impress. Now-2025+
Simon Quinn, VinQuinn

When Mark and Sarah Driver founded Rathfinny in 2010, they were determined to release a high-quality English sparkling wine at an accessible price point. This was the ambition behind the Classic Cuvée, which at just under £30 is cheaper than many comparable wines in the category. It's a vintage wine – all the Rathfinny wines are – here 2017, a late-ripening year. The blend is 65% Pinot Noir, 18% Chardonnay, 17% Pinot Meunier, and in the glass you'll see a very faint hint of rose gold from skin contact during pressing. This is all about purity of fruit, with notes of red berries and red apple, almost autumnal, but fresh and elegant at the same time. It's a rounded and gentle wine that would be a great partner for fish and chips.
92 points Decanter


2017 Blanc de Blancs

£140.00 per 6 Bot Case, in bond
£188.58 Duty & VAT paid

£170.00 per 6 Bot Case, in bond
£224.58 Duty & VAT paid

The bouquet of baked apple, a twist of lemon, beeswax, cinnamon and nutmeg couldn't be more attractive. Russet apple and Pear William dominate the bold and lively palate. There's a delicate mousse, with fine bead. Zingy citrus acidity provides lots of energy. Crisply focussed and supremely balanced, the Blanc de Blancs is an ideal aperitif but is versatile enough to partner brilliantly with a whole range of dishes, as well. Now-2025+
Simon Quinn, VinQuinn

Rathfinny's location a stone's throw from the Sussex coast protects their vines from the worst vagaries of the English climate, meaning that they were protected by the late spring frosts in 2017. This is the second release of the blanc de blancs, made from eight different clones of Chardonnay, vinified separately. The vines are grown on chalky soils, and the grapes for this vintage were picked in late October after a long hang time. The ripeness of the fruit meant that no chaptalisation was necessary, but the wine did undergo malolactic fermentation to round it out and add some lactic notes. There's a weight of ripe fruit on the nose and palate, almost tropical in character. It's rich and mouthfilling, with fresh acidity and a lick of salinity. Pair it with salmon, seafood, or even cheese soufflé. Fewer than 10,000 bottles made. Disgorged February 2021. Dosage: 4g/L. 2021-2025
93 points Decanter


2016 Blanc de Noirs

£138.00 per 6 Bot Case, in bond
£186.18 Duty & VAT paid

£169.00 per 6 Bot Case, in bond
£223.38 Duty & VAT paid

The Blanc de Noirs has an attractive old gold colour. The mousse is very fine and exceptionally persistent. Complex aromas of dried apricot, baked rhubarb, tarte tatin and pot-pouri make for an engaging nose. The Pinot fruit provides plenty of weight to this plush and sensual wine. The rich palate of hedonistic, ripe and fleshy fruit will make a match for some equally bold and hearty food. In fact, I'd pair this in the same way I might a mature Burgundy. Now-2027+
Simon Quinn, VinQuinn

The 2016 Blanc de Noirs is aged for 36 months in bottle with a dosage of 3g/L. It has a burnished silvery hue. The well-delineated nose is an absolute delight, presenting scents of orange pith, brioche, toasted pine nuts and a hint of white peach in the background. The palate is well poised with a light walnut opening, quite saline in the mouth and precise toward the finish; a touch of blackberry appears on the aftertaste. Impressive energy and sophistication are clear to see in what might be one of England's best Blanc de Noirs. Highly recommended. 2020-2032
93 points Neal Martin, Vinous


2017 Rose

£133.00 per 6 Bot Case, in bond
£180.18 Duty & VAT paid

This has a very pretty salmon colour and delicate mousse. Elegant aromas of red apple, strawberry and rosewater entice on the nose, whilst the palate is nothing short of drop-dead gorgeous! Brimming with succulent red cherry, strawberry and raspberry; the ideal English summer, in a glass. Seductive and characterful, with a firm backbone, this could be enjoyed anytime, anywhere but would be especially good with a rack of lamb. Be careful not to over-chill this. Now-2025+
Simon Quinn, VinQuinn

The 2017 Brut Rosé is the third release for Rathfinny, disgorged in May 2020 after 24 months of aging on the lees with 4g/L dosage. It has quite a powerful bouquet of strawberry, freshly sliced melon and crushed stone scents, lively and gaining more energy after an hour. The palate is focused and taut, the fruit tightly bound, and an appealing steeliness comes through on the finish. This is a fine sparkling rosé that should drink well over the next decade. 2020-2030
90 points Neal Martin, Vinous

This family-owned estate was established in 2010 by Mark and Sarah Driver, with the first vineyards being planted in April 2012. Rathfinny’s estate vineyard now extends to over 93 hectares in the South Downs, just three miles from the Channel. Lying on a south-facing slope, the site is predominantly planted with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Meunier and benefits from a semi-continental maritime climate and free-draining chalk soils, providing the ideal conditions to ripen grapes for sparkling wine. Rathfinny uses only estate-grown fruit for their four traditional-method sparkling wines: Classic Cuvée, Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs and Rosé. Each of their wines is produced and labelled as a vintage wine.

The hand-harvested and whole-bunch pressed grapes are vinified with as little intervention as possible and a low dosage to preserve the purest expression of place and vintage. This preservation of character starts in the vineyard, says Sarah Driver. “We aim to be a sustainable wine producer. As a result, we take the stewardship of our land seriously. All our buildings are constructed using locally-sourced materials, such as flint from the vineyards, and we have worked with Natural England and the South Downs National Park to implement a programme of improvements to enhance wildlife habitats and reclaim areas of natural chalk grassland, as well as creating wildlife corridors throughout the vineyard.”

This ‘re-wilding’ of what was previously an arable farm ensures greater biodiversity. This focus on the environment, and to sustainability and the soil, ensures good quality fruit. Mark Driver adds that “sustainability is multi-layered, it’s everything we touch. It’s not just about the use of carbon or energy or chemicals. It’s about how we treat our soils, our use of water and all the inputs we have in the winemaking process, the whole environment.” This attention to detail shines through in the wines, which are beautifully made, elegant and balanced.



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