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55 minutes with Rathfinny Estate’s winemaking team

Published:  06 March, 2023

A double dose of decision-making is this month’s focus as Andrew Catchpole join’s Rathfinny for 2019 Blanc de Blancs and Blanc de Noir dosage trials

“Dosage has to enhance what is in the bottle, bring it all into balance.” So guided Rathfinny’s winery manager Tony Milanowski, adding: “The 2019 vintage was really interesting, a hot summer, a damp harvest, and we were still picking mid-October… but it came through and we are very happy with the results.” It proved a fascinating exercise, not least as it fast become apparent just how much difference small variations to dosage can make in sparkling wines.

Intriguingly, at Rathfinny, where between 3g and 4g is often the norm, these November-disgorged samples were introduced in pairs, working ‘inwards’ from 0g and 6g, until the final 3g sample was assessed.

The team then discussed and voted as to their preferred dosage, considering the appearance of aromatic and fruit character, acidity, texture and length, plus the overall complexity and balance.

And, with a mix of 3g and 4g splitting the vote on both wines, samples of 2.5g and 3.5g were also then entered into the fray.

The final decision on each wine, to be released as part of the Rathfinny Reserved range to its club of private purchasers, will be taken after a little more reflection post-trial. As co-owner Mark Driver quipped: “Remember, it’s not a democracy here.”

Driver made a serious point too, highlighting that, with regard to dosage and commercial considerations, sommeliers are asking for ever drier styles, but higher dosage can be more of a crowd-pleaser with the average, quaffing punter.

Milanowski is likely to have the last word, though, adding: “It’s about the best wine we can make.”