Happy almost Friday! As you may have seen on Instagram this past Saturday Mark and I headed down to near the coast, a two hour drive Southwest from London. The plan was to spend weekend away by the sea but the highlight was our visit to Tinwood Estate. Just outside the town of Chichester this vineyard has been open for 13 years producing three different varieties of English sparkling wine and you better believe we tried them all! We arrived just before three for the afternoon vineyard tour and tasting which was actually given by the owner, Art Tukker.
Even though it was one of the hottest days of the year, 93F or 34C, we started by taking a quick walk into the vines to see the grapes and learn about the planting. (This was after each party was assigned seats on the patio, following all of the COVID socially distanced guidelines and making us feel very safe, plus we were outdoors!) Art, a second generation farmer, explained how he turned his parent’s fields of iceberg lettuce into a vineyard and how he came to plant the three classic champagne varieties. My first question was if the vineyard only produces sparkling and the answer is yes. This, he explained, is because the weather dictates what style wine they can produce and due to the English weather, read: rain, that is bubbles only. After hearing a bit more about the Earth (flint and gravel which is good for drainage for rain) and the vines – 50,000 from French nurseries planted in perfectly straight lines – it was time to go back to main house for the tasting.
We tried all three varieties of Tinwood Estate wine; their Blanc de Blanc, the Brut, and the Rose. Before tasting I would have guessed the rose was going to be my favorite but it was actually the blanc de blanc, made from 100% chardonnay grapes. This was surprising to me as I am not usually a big fan of chardonnay but it was the farthest thing from a heavy white. Each sip was light, refreshing, not too sweet, and was similar to biting into a fresh, cold green apple. Half way through our first glas we also got a cheese board with different options to perfectly pair with each of the wines.
The next tasting was the Brut, made of the same split of the grapes in the vineyard – 50% red and 50% white – and was the most similar to a French champagne. It paired well with the blue cheese and on the hot day, went down quite quickly. The last was the rose which was also light and refreshing, but surprisingly not my favorite (though tasty enough I finished my glass, clearly). Of the 45 people on our tour – all appropriately space out for COVID compliance – a bit more than half the group said the first wine was their favourite, just over a third preferred the brut, and only a handful went for the rose though post tour people bought bottles of all three varitials – both cold bottles to drink then and ones to take home.
As mentioned, the Blanc de Blanc was our favourite so we got a bottle and spent the rest of the afternoon on a picnic table in the shade, enjoying the bubbles next to the vines and appreciating the cool drink on the hot day. Time flew by as we talked about wedding planning, our upcoming birthdays, our trip to Italy, and more. It was such a lovely day!
I would recommend a visit to Tinwood Estate and you can find more about their Vineyard Tours & Wine Tasting here, and what is even better? They have tours every day of the week – so if you want to take a day trip down on a week day and use some of those extra holiday days or even stay over for a mini staycation it would be perfect! And a few more pictures, because why not!
Would you want to visit Tinwood Estate?