Hi Folks

Well  “Have I got NEWS for you”  and also a first to ever be done in the UK.

It all started when myself and Jeremy Palmer (from Barbados – @JeremyPalmer7  – Twitter) got into a conversation around Christmas time last year as he was seeing Rathfinny English sparkling wines on twitter and social media and couldn’t get any. We jokingly said they should sell it En-Primeur and then a big conversation ensued……. everyone in the wine industry then commented….. its not the done thing!. Mark Driver owner of Rathfinny then commented…. well that’s an interesting idea, he obviously had other thoughts.

Well TODAY it’s turned from an idea to reality.  26th July YES TODAY!! the Rathfinny website or cellar door will have a new option.


This new service will give private individuals the opportunity to reserve cases of Rathfinny Classic Cuvee Sussex Sparkling wine a few years before it is released onto the general market.

Since launching their first wines last year they have been so popular it’s nearly impossible to purchase by the case.

Last weekend I returned to the estate to talk to Mark about RESERVED. I need to give Mark & Sarah Driver and of course my mate Richard James a huge thank you as they have asked me….yes little old me to make this huge initial announcement… because it started with that Christmas conversation on twitter.

Its a brand new wine too, and I was privileged to be the first person outside of a select  few at the winery to taste the 2017 Classic Cuvee last weekend.  Its tasting superbly after 1 year and is going to be a truly amazing Sussex sparkling wine when launched.

Obviously it wont have a crown cap and it will be labelled prior to delivery


The wine for Rathfinny RESERVED will be the Classic Cuvee 2017. The 2016 Cuvee is being launched next year but the RESERVED will be for 2021 delivery as the 2016 does not have the volume of wine to start such an innovative project.

So some basic facts about RESERVED.

  1. 2017 Classic Cuvee is 66% Pinot Noir, and 17% each of Chardonnay and Pinot Muenier.
  2. 800  x 6 bottle cases made available for RESERVED.
  3. In Regular 75cl bottles or 150cl magnums.
  4. Minimum 4 cases per customer.
  5. Available Summer 2021

So your options are as follows:

A minimum of 4 x 6 bottle cases of CC 16. or 4 x 150cl Magnum 3 bottle cases or have a mix up of both….the best idea!

RESERVED is only 4800 bottles that are being offered on it’s release so it’s going to be first come first served, this allocation will sell out fast. There is no maximum that you can buy.

The 2017 Classic Cuvee is an exceptional vintage for the estate, however most vineyards in the UK, and most of northern Europe including Champagne and Rioja had huge problems with the frost in April 2017. The week commencing the 23rd April there were three frosts… the 26th was the worst and down to -6c over most of the south coast where the largest vineyards are in the UK. Most producers got hit hard (some as much as 30-40% loss) as the vines were well into bud after a pretty good spring. Rathfinny is set in the Cradle valley, the estate meanders down to the estuary of the sea. What this does is draw away the cold from the vines. Rathfinny lost 1-2% only in 17′ vintage, due to its south facing and proximity to the coast.

After this early budburst the grapes benefitted from a long ripening period and a phenomenal ‘Indian summer’, with unseasonably warm September weather producing fantastic ripe fruit, with great flavours, balanced acidity and sugar levels.

 So how does Rathfinny Reserved work in practice?

Rathfinny ‘Reserved’ wine has spent its first year in the bottle. The wine will spend a further two years lying in the bottle ‘on-lees’ in their temperature-controlled cellar, allowing the ‘autolytic’ flavours to develop. They plan to disgorge the wine at the beginning of 2021, removing the yeast lees and will then release the wines to ‘Reserved’ customers in the summer of 2021.

The wine can be purchased from today under “In Bond”, what this means is that you only pay for the wine on your initial purchase. MR UK GOVERNMENT will then have to be paid (Duty and VAT) once you release your wines from Bond in 2021.

So why would you do this…..

a) You get an allocation of the RESERVED WINE

b) It Actually works out cheaper

So what do you pay?

The price of the wine is £19 per 75cl bottle or £39 per 150cl Magnum, exclusive of excise duty and VAT. Once the wines are released, excise duty and VAT will be payable.

So to take delivery of your wine…. unfortunately you then have to pay her Majesty’s revenue and customs (HMRC) = Government some dough! Current duty rates for sparkling wines for the UK are £ 2.86 per 75cl bottle and then you add 20% Vat. So under current tax arrangements, which can always be changed by HMRC it works out that for each 75cl bottle it will cost £26.23 and each magnum would cost £53.66.  The wine will retail for £29/£30 (for 75cl bottle) once on general release, so quite a cost saving overall. However, rates of excise duty and VAT are subject to change by the UK government at any time. 

Well you can buy these wines direct from the Rathfinny website with your plastic flexible friend as of right now 26/07/2019 or order at the cellar door at the vineyard directly.

You don’t have to worry once you place your order as Rathfinny take very good care of your wine for the next 2 years, while its developing nicely. Rathfinny will remain responsible for insuring the wine at the original invoice value until you collect or request delivery. Ownership of the wines will pass on settlement of all outstanding charges.

When can I get my mits on my purchases I hear you ask….

The wines will be disgorged in early 2021 and then rest in the bottle for a few months, you will then be notified by email when the wine is available for collection or delivery. Generally Rathfinny release their vintages in May or early June.

So you get your email, pay Rathfinny the tax which they sort with HMRC for you and you collect your wine or they will deliver world wide, obviously delivery is at normal shipping rates. The wines need to be collected within one month of the notification or they may start to charge storage fees on your bottles!

If you are an international customer these wines can be purchased free from United Kingdom VAT and duty. However your country will also have rates for duty and tax per bottle which will need to be applied by the shipping agent before they would deliver to your address. These vary across the globe and if you ask Mr Goggle nicely and I’m sure he will have the rates for your country for importing wine.

You may have noticed I mentioned I had the opportunity to taste this 2017 Classic Cuvee  with last weekend, Mark very kindly left the bottle with the tasting room staff so we could finish it off with dinner.

So what is it like?

Well you have to understand that this wine is only 1 year into its three year aging, but after only one year this wine is already spectacular. When I tasted the wine it had not yet had dosage added (added sugars).

On the nose it’s pears and red apples with a vibrant perlage. The palate is fresh and rich with summer fruit which then turns to cherry on the finish…. which goes on and on. I cannot believe that this wine is zero dosage at this stage.

Rathfinny will be adding dosage to the wine before release but as usual for them it will be only for balance and structure and not trying to add new flavours to the wine with sugar.

What’s interesting is that Rathfinny dosage is generally low 3-6g per litre. Brut Champagne will usually be between 9 & 12g per litre. If you want to experiment yourselves get a litre of water and add 6g of sugar….. Most of our palates can’t ever notice it!

Hope you love the wine in 2021!


Here is Mark Driver talking about Rathfinny RESERVED


Here is the link for RESERVED on the Rathfinny website.

Website and social media links for Rathfinny below:





I’m not being paid by Rathfinny for this blog. I am a huge advocate of the fabulous English sparkling wine industry, especially with what Rathfinny are doing. I will always promote free of charge for great wines and wineries. Rathfinny did provide me with overnight  accommodation as I live 200 miles away.









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