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Rathfinny reveals Sussex sparkling launch details

Published:  13 February, 2018

Rathfinny Estate has announced the highly anticipated launch of its first Sussex sparkling wines will take place at Somerset House in London on April 24th.

The 2015 vintage Blanc de Blancs 2014 and sparkling Rosé 2015 from the East Sussex winery will be unveiled at the tasting, priced at £34 per bottle, with the duo expected to go on sale in June.

Rathfinny’s UK distributor, Gonzalez Byass, said 80% of the first batch would be destined for the UK market, although in the longer term about half would be dedicated to exports elsewhere in Europe, as well as to Asia and the US.

With a slightly higher rrp compared to rival producers, many of which are priced between £20 and £30, the majority of the new bubbles would be sold to premium on-trade accounts, hotels and high-end restaurants, with some destined for independent off-trade accounts in the UK, said Martin Skelton, MD of Gonzalez Byass.

Founded in 2010 by husband and wife, Mark and Sarah Driver, Rathfinny’s first vines were planted in 2012 and today the estate in Alfriston comprises 74.8ha (185 acres) of predominantly Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, with a further 87ha (215 acres) to be planted by 2021.

“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,” said Mark Driver.

“Last 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,” he added.

The launch of the new wines, made by Jonathan Médard from Épernay, takes place two days ahead of the first Wines of GB annual tasting at RHS Lindley Hall in London.

Last year, Rathfinny’s still Cradle Valley white wine - a blend of Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris from the 2016 vintage - became the first ‘Sussex’ wine to win approval under the new Sussex Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) scheme.