Hoffmann & Rathbone

There is undiscovered pearl boutique winery in Sussex.

Somewhat love story between Ulrich Hoffmann and Birgit Rathbone was born in 2009. Names came together like in the past and Hoffmann & Rathbone was born.

Just last week had an opportunity to visit them (thanks to Indigo wines).

Ulrich and marketing manager Mel gave us nice tour and a taste so different what I haven’t encountered before.

It’s not an old nor new winery! They have been developing some serious Sussex sparkles less than a decade. I have to admidt… their Blanc de Blancs 2011 was breathtaking.

.. not sharp, pleasantly smooth with a freshness one of a kind. Refined delicate fruits were balanced with small soft bubbles. It IS the most smoothest and delicate English sparkling wines I have ever tasted so far. Mostly UK origin bubbles I’ve tried resemble classic style of Methode Traditionelle made in Champagne. Big fruits, big bubbles with crispy sharpness. This one had a low tone, elegant nature, and long captivating finish.

They don’t own any vineyards (yet) and receive fruit from neighboring vineyards.

Closest vineyard from where they source the fruits is just ca 500 m away from the production hut.

Ulrich Hoffmann is a winemaker with a great knowledge and experience.

Quick cap on his winemaking experience: He has been linked with long consultancy with Rolf-Willy estate in (my favorite German region) Baden+Württenberg, Chateau Fieuzal and Haut-Gaurdere in Bordeaux, Artadi in Navarra and Cain Vineyards in Napa Valley.

Ulrich and Birgit have Pepper – the soul and the guardain of fields:


First vintages had minimalistic label design (right).

But then it changed and it has an awesome story behind it. Who doesn’t enjoy unique true stories…
New label (up left and below) is connected with one statue which Ulrich once bought from some art auction (sadly only 1 side pic is taken ..turning the bottle continues Bacchus story)!

A statue was about Bacchus and its joys / pleasures / festivities. Ulrich’s wife didn’t like the statue at all. So he had to remove that fine art speciment from house to garage. It stayed there for a long time until pr company was involved (marketing reasons) and discovered that it represents everything about the winery and is just the essence of what they do. Based upon the art sculptor, pr company designed a label. And a damn good one! In my honest opinion this label is one of the finest, classy labels I’ve seen for that sort of brand. It’s unique, had a great pattern and story behind. Finally as I heard, she started to like it and so minds were changed. Statue is back in the house.

Last week veraison had just started. The unique colour transformation where red berries start to turn red from green.

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