12. Apr, 2017

Sunshine and English Sparkling Wine - a winning combination

I was driving through West Sussex in glorious Spring sunshine on a Saturday morning, intending to visit several of the local vineyards and sample some English Sparkling Wine; sadly even those vineyards listed as "open" on their websites had not yet geared up for visitors. I know Easter is late this year, but really? I was about to give up but decided to try just one more. This time I called ahead and was pleased to discover that the vineyard visitor centre was open - on this particular day, until 9pm*.

I received a warm welcome from the owners of Tinwood Estates and their Black Labrador, appropriately named Pinot Noir, when I arrived at about 12.45.

Tinwood's owners trained in New Zealand, at Cloudy Bay (amongst others) and favour new world techniques. They produce three English Sparkling Wines - 40% of their output is Blanc de Blancs, 40% Brut and 20% Rosé. Their first harvest was bottled in 2012.
The vines are just beginning to bud on this gloriously sunny and warm day. There is a tasting tour group when I arrive, sitting on the terrace enjoying the sunshine and the wines. Tours usually take place daily at 3pm - cost £15 with a paired cheese board for an additional £5. Great value.
There are both indoor and outdoor tasting areas; the outdoor terrace, remeniscent of New Zealand wineries, has glazed screens as well as covered and open areas with tables for at least 30 guest. The indoor room had a large refectory table and seating for 12+.
Tasting notes: my personal opinions 
Tinwood Estate Blanc de Blancs 2014
100% Chardonnay (Dosage 7.5)
Instant green apple, freshness, loads of bubbles. Perfect for shellfish or smoked salmon. Reflecting the flinty soil. Distinctly an English wine. Delicious! I'd happily drink this all year round but on a sunny afternoon it is sheer bliss!
Tinwood Estate Brut 2014 
Chardonnay 50% / Pinot Noir 30% / Pinot Meunier 20% (Dosage 7.5)
More French in character than the Blanc de Blancs with characteristic and familiar citrus/toasty taste. Glorious bubbles and a refined taste.
Ideal for cheese and possibly foie gras? (Although I might just pair either with the Chardonnay)
Tinwood Estate Rosé 2014 
Pinot Noir 60% / Pinot Meunier 20% / Chardonnay 20% (Dosage 9)
A pale salmon pink colour and served from a clear glass bottle, this rosé is unlike any rosé sparkling wine I have tasted. It is Provençal in character. Light and bright. Ideal for celebrating. Perfect with summer fruits, for a picnic or as an alfresco concert wine.
After a stroll down th path to look at the vines from the viewing deck (and the luxurious lodges and barrel sauna, ideal for a romantic interlude) I repaired to the shop. As well as the wines, Tinwood has wine buckets, glasses, bottle stoppers, its own honey and candles housed in sawn-off recycled bottles. I managed to escape with two bottles of the Blanc de Blancs; one for my collectio and another as a gift for a fellow bubbly-loving friend.
All the owners and staff are knowledgeable and passionate about the wines and are really welcoming to ad-hoc visitors (always a good sign). I can highly recommend the experience and promise I will be back soon!
Views are my own: any errors are mine too!
*check website or call for opening hours, tour details, lodges etc

Tinwood Farm
West Sussex
PO18 0NE