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Review of The Kitchen @ Tinwood Estate


Tinwood Estate near Chichester

I don’t have to tell any regular reader of these pages about how the Sussex wine industry has gone from strength-to-strength over the past couple of decades. The county is home to a least 80 vineyards producing acclaimed sparkling wines and an ever improving standard of still wines that are establishing their own identity in the unique terroir of our region.


Naturally, alongside the agriculture and production, vineyard owners have been developing other revenue streams with wine tourism being the main focus. Wine tourism encompasses many consumer-facing activities: cellar door tasting and retail, guided vineyard and winery tours, venue hire for weddings and events, and, naturally, dining.


On the whole, the food offering is similar at most local vineyards. Although many offer a lighter lunch option, the evening service tends to be on the pricey side which I guess is inevitable when a bottle of Sussex sparkling wine isn’t exactly cheap in itself. The menus tend to focus on locally sourced ingredients and small-plates reign, meaning the offering ends up rather homogenous. It’s no criticism, it just is what it is.


So when I heard that Tinwood Estate at Halnaker had finally launched their new dining concept, I was on that train from Brighton to Chichester quick as a shot.


To give a little background on Tinwood, the farmland has been in the Tukker family’s hands for 40 years with the vineyard planted back in 2007 so their vines are now well-established. As with many Sussex growers, they’ve focussed on the classic Champagne grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – that luckily for us thrive so well in the marginal climate of the South Downs.


The perennial problem of wine tourism in England is quite simply the challenge of getting there. You obviously don’t want to drive – that would rather negate the joy of visiting a vineyard – but rural public transport in Sussex is at best appalling and at worst non-existent. So whilst getting a taxi from Chichester didn’t pose a problem, booking one to come back was quite a different story so that definitely needs some pre-planning.


On the day, we visited – I was joined by my chef mate Simon – the sun was shining, actually blazing is probably more accurate; we needed some rapid liquid refreshment.


The recently built modern garden room and patio terrace overlook the fields with vines as far as the eye can see. My lunch partner commented how he felt he was on holiday, which is pretty much how I felt. The location, architecture and general laid-back ambiance has more of the feel of Marlborough in New Zealand than Sussex.


And so to the food… this is where it gets exciting because it is genuinely very different from the offerings of other local vineyards. The ‘kitchen’ is a series of fridges, hot cabinets and ambient stations packed with individually portioned goodies. You pick up a rustic shopping crate and create your own meal with whatever takes your fancy. We were like kids in the candy store!



Dips and charcuterie at Tinwood Estate

With the exception of my demand for a hearty slab of washed-rind Burwash cheese, I left the selection to Simon as he’s the chef after all. As I’ve mentioned, it was hot – very hot – so we did eat rather more lightly compared to usual, and whilst the seeded puff pastry sausage rolls, Sicilian style truffle arancini balls and salt cod fishcakes all looked mighty tempting I think they just might have finished us off.


We enjoyed two impressive dips – one a wonderfully light whipped goats cheese, the other a smokey aubergine ‘caviar’ – with bread and crackers. Both simple and well-executed dishes that are perfect for grazing. Similarly the homemade mackerel pate ticked the box, as did the lashings of wafer thin local charcuterie. It was all perfect picky, share-y style food for leisurely grazing which is exactly what you want whilst sampling a glass or two of the estate’s award-winning sparkling wines.


The wine choices are pretty straightforward with three on offer. The Blanc de Blanc is exactly what you’d expect from a 100% Chardonnay sparkling wine from Sussex: a crisp and refreshing apple profile with a clean finish. The Rosé – a blend of all three grapes but with a little skin contact to give a beautiful pink hue – is red fruit heavy; English rosés aren’t always my first choice but when perfectly chilled on a summer day it proved an absolute delight. To my mind, Tinwood’s most successful wine is their Brut, again a combination of all three of their grapes. Offering up a great balance of citrus fruit and classic toasty notes with an edge of honey, it’s a genuinely great example of Sussex sparkling wine.


In terms of food prices, you’re very much in control of your own budget. Dips are a very reasonable £3 each, hot tapas style items are £7-11 with aa mixed platter of farmhouse cheeses with crackers and chutney coming in at £11. I’d reckon you’d be looking at around £25-30 for a filling lunch. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, and the kitchen can advise on allergens.


My recommendation is to make a full afternoon of a visit to Tinwood Estate. Enjoy a guided tour and wander through the vines followed by a leisurely lunch with a glass or two of Sussex bubbles. And don’t forget to book your taxi home!


Nick Mosley


Tinwood Estate, Halnaker, near Chichester, PO18 0NE

01243 537372 • www.tinwoodestate.com


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