March 1st, 2018
Rathfinny, one of Britain’s newest single site vineyards, is gearing up to sell Sussex Sparkling wine in a ‘modern’ pint bottle (the ‘Sussex Pint’) – a measure favoured by the likes of Winston Churchill, before it was banned by the European Union.
The wine estate in Sussex wants to sell it in the imperial pint measure after Brexit for the first time since 1973, when Britain’s decision to join the European Economic Community meant they were banned in favour of metric measures.
Rathfinny Estate, founded in 2010, has already laid down more than 800 pint bottles containing its 2015 Blanc de Noirs which will be ready for drinking next year.
The company, like Churchill, considers the imperial pint, roughly equivalent to 50 cl, to be the “ideal size for an individual at home or a couple at dinner – as it provides four full glasses (as opposed to six in a standard 75cl bottle).”
Churchill famously said: "Clemmie (his wife) thinks that a full bottle is too much for me. But I know that half a bottle is insufficient to tease my brains.
An imperial pint is an ideal size for a man like me. It's enough for two at lunch and one at dinner. It pleases everyone, even the producer."
Mark Driver, the co-owner of Rathfinny Estate with his wife Sarah, agrees, explaining: “It is such a perfect size – you get four proper glasses from it – as opposed to six from a full bottle, which is often too much for a couple and only three from a half bottle, which is very unsatisfactory.
“As Churchill said a pint is the ideal size if you are at home and want a drink – or out at a restaurant as an aperitif.
“The great thing about the modern ‘pint’ (50cl) or the ‘Sussex Pint’ as we’re calling it, is that you can bottle ferment in this sized bottle, something you can’t do with a half bottle (37.4cl), so the quality is maintained.
“No matter what your thoughts on leaving the EU, one benefit will be the ability to sell sparkling wine in a pint-sized bottle.”
Sarah Driver adds, “Sparkling wine has always been my favourite drink, but when you’re a couple at home, a standard size can be too much to justify opening and there’s the health benefits too of a pint-sized bottle.”
However, devotees of the pint might have to be patient.
Even though the Rathfinny pint will be ready next year, it is unlikely the pint bottles will be on sale before 2021. Strict EU rules prohibit sparkling wine sales, though not still wine sales, to fixed sizes (37.5cl, 75cl and multiples of 75cl) and sadly the pint is not one.
“We may not be able to sell it but there is nothing to stop us giving it away,” said Mark Driver. “Although our COO is a bit nervous that he might get arrested!
“If early tastings are anything to go by, it will be a collector’s item.”
In the meantime, fans of Rathfinny can enjoy its Blanc de Blancs which will be available in June this year, its first sparkling wine and a major landmark for the winery.