The grapes to produce the Classic Cuvée Brut Rathfinny Wine Estate were hand harvested, whole bunch pressed and vinified with as little intervention as possible, to preserve the purest expression of vintage and place. The base wine was fermented in stainless steel at 16°C, followed by malolactic fermentation. After bottling, the wine was aged 36 months on lees to develop autolytic complexity.The estate vineyard is protected from the worst of the prevailing south westerly winds by a natural ridge that runs along the southern edge of the Estate. Sustainability and stewardship of the land are at the heart of Rathfinny’s philosophy. The team have worked closely with Natural England and the South Downs National Park, to implement a programme which enhances local wildlife habitats and reclaims areas of natural chalk grassland. Rathfinny’s focus on the environment, and commitment to sustainability and soil health, ensure excellent quality fruit.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 more extraordinary biodiversity. This focus on the environment, sustainability and the soil ensure good-quality fruit. Mark Driver adds, “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 water use and all our inputs in the winemaking process, the whole environment.” This attention to detail shines through in the wines, which are beautifully made, elegant and balanced.