Regular readers may remember that my colleague Marcus and I were invited to a vineyard tour and tasting at Tinwood in 2019, a vineyard that was founded in 2009 near Chichester on a family farm that had previously produced iceberg lettuces!

We were invited again this week for an update on the vineyard and also to try out their new Vineyard Kitchen, which offers hot and cold food tapas style every day from 11am.

Since our last visit, the acreage planted under vine has expanded to 110 acres which will produce between 300 and 400 tonnes of grapes. The 2023 harvest was looking very promising and we timed our tour well, just as the grapes were starting to change colour. Tinwood produces four sparkling wines, having abandoned the idea of still wine as they say that the English climate is still not warm enough to produce the quality that the vineyard aspires to produce. As before, the tour was enjoyably light-hearted yet informative and interesting. Vlada, our guide, was a delight.

As before, the beautiful Tasting Room with its large outdoor terrace provides a wonderful spot to while away the hours drinking quality wines and eating good food, surrounded by vines and some lovely countryside. It really is a terrific spot, one of the loveliest I have ever experienced at a local vineyard.

The new Vineyard Kitchen provides seasonal dishes that are intended to be shared and paired with their award-winning wines. The ingredients are fresh, local, and as sustainable as possible. We shared a number of dishes which included lovely local smoked trout, a crunchy celeriac and chive remoulade, salami, a fresh and interesting Tinwood salad alongside good, home-produced bread. Hot dishes included excellent ham and cheese croquettes, truffled arancini balls, well flavoured meatballs, and chickpea fritters with fennel seeds.  They also had various cheeses and four desserts on offer. Prices range from £5 to £11 for the larger tapas plates.

These were paired with three of the wines, which are part of the wine tour and tasting. To start with, the Blanc de Blancs 2020, which is made from 100% Chardonnay grape. Their tasting notes call it a delicate pale gold wine with silvery highlights, the palate has a firm attack, making this wine genuinely refreshing, with green apple and white tropical fruits in abundance — a beautifully balanced, clean finish that lingers for a moment. To be enjoyed and savoured on its own but also beautifully served well with light canapes and shellfish.

Next up was the Brut 2019: our English sparkling wine Brut, made from 50% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot-Noir and 20% Pinot-Meunier grape. Pale gold in colour with a lovely mousse and a fine stream of bubbles. Aromas of citrus melon fruits with hints of toast and honey. Fresh fruit flavours continue on the palate with depth and refinement added by the Pinots. Chardonnay dominance brings finesse, along with crisp fruit freshness and toasty notes. The two Pinot’s add depth and character. A beautifully balanced finish. To be enjoyed and savoured on its own but beautifully served with a charcuterie board, a sumptuous Christmas Dinner, or simply to pop at any special occasion.

Finally, the Rosé 2020: made from 20% Chardonnay, 60% Pinot-Noir and 20% Pinot-Meunier grape. A stunning salmon colour with an abundance of bubbles and English raspberry and strawberry flavours.  The Pinots hint at the classic red fruits whilst the Chardonnay brings freshness and finesse for which England is so acclaimed. Ideally suited to a romantic interlude or when enjoying a glorious summer evening.

The wines were as good as we remembered them and well priced at £33 for the first two, with the Rosé coming in at £35 a bottle. The wine tour and tasting is just £21 per person, and includes a generous tasting of all three wines and is well worth doing.

We enjoyed ourselves immensely and could not stop ourselves from ordering a final glass of the Blanc de Blancs to savour while enjoying a warm afternoon looking over the vines at this charmingly idyllic spot.