Wednesday Wines – Episode 190 – 2020 Rathfinny Mini Cuvée

A ground-breaking (and for the time being a law-breaking) initiative that deserves to spearhead the single most exciting innovation in the English Sparkling Wine scene.

Mark and Sarah Driver at Rathfinny have been working on a secret project. I was fortunate to taste the 2020 iteration of Rathfinny Mini Cuvée, a stunning 50cl bottling of their beautiful sparkling wine. I am convinced it will become a secret weapon for its creators and also the English and Welsh sparkling wine world. The finest two sizes for bottles of sparkling wine are 50cl or 150cl. Half-litres perfectly equate to four 125ml glasses. 

125ml is the perfect size for sparkling wine, and it is a classic restaurant pour, too. Two people can share a 50cl bottle with ease before dinner, whereas 75cl is often too much wine, not least when you usually want to roll on to a white wine. A 75cl bottle for four people is a poor option – a glass and a dribble each… Magnums are, of course, sensational for four or six drinkers!

Meanwhile, the Government is, for some unknown reason, hung up on imperial pints. Unsurprisingly, there are no sparkling wine bottles made in 56.8cl sizes(!), and no one in the wine world has ever talked about a pint of wine; it is ridiculous that still wine can be sold in a 50cl format, but sparkling wine cannot.  

50cl sparkling wine bottles are legal in other parts of the world but not in the UK. This size is brilliant, and it could be the UK’s global secret weapon if the Government adds this size to legislation. A simple pen stroke that costs nothing could open a world of opportunity for sparkling wine producers in the UK.

50cl bottles fit with my lifelong ‘fewer and finer’ rallying cry and today’s health-conscious drinker favours drinking less volume but more elegant wine, so the time is right for this legislative change. 

50cl is the perfect size for sparkling wine, and Rathfinny has been lobbying for a change in legislation for years. They produced a ‘mini’ in 2016 when they bottled some 2015 Blanc de Noirs, and in 2020, they bottled 800 individually numbered bottles x 50cls. In the 2021 vintage, they have made 5000 bottles. 

Rathfinny’s 50cl bottle is fermented and aged in the bottle, unlike many old-fashioned half (37.5cl) bottles, which are usually filled by the transfer method and are notably of a lesser quality. In my experience, they age very rapidly, too, making them a relatively unstable purchase.

I think the 50cl sparkling wine format is genius, and I would encourage everyone you know to lobby their local MP for a change in the law. You would be doing the UK wine business a massive service with this tiny adjustment to the rules!

2020 Rathfinny, Mini Cuvée, Sussex Sparkling (not for sale – yet)

55% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Meunier; 24 months ageing, 3.5g/L dosage, 12.5% alc.

This is an exuberant and downright delicious wine showcasing the perfect 2020 growing season off to a tee. Smooth, balanced, enticing, and crisply refreshing, this is a thrilling wine that puts Mark Driver’s beloved Pinot Noir grape in the driving seat of the blend, staying true to the Rathfinny mantra! I hope you can taste this wine – it deserves to be the wine that opens the floodgates of 50cl bottles in the UK.