Those of you who are even semi-regular readers of this blog or our newsletters will know that we’ve always been rather excited by new-ish winery on the block Tillingham, based down in East Sussex. We’ve had a few of their wines (and ciders!) in for a while, but last month we all finally made it down to visit them. Although they have an appropriately fancy restaurant, complete with set menu featuring produce from their own farm, they also do pizzas. This means you can, if you wish, save your money to spend more on wine - a very smart business move we must say, and one that certainly worked on us.
We were greeted by some goats on arrival before we wandered down to the former barn that now houses their pizza ovens, sat under the awning with views of the farm, oasthouses and beautiful rooms. We were incredibly lucky with the weather, having visited on that last sunny September weekend, so we were very pleased to be sitting outside able to make the most of it. The chickens pottering around our feet seemed pretty happy too.
While we were deciding on our pizzas, we popped a bottle of Col’ 19 as an aperitif. It's hard to believe this is only 9% - it has incredible texture with fresh acidity and a little bit of lees toastiness complementing zippy apple flavour with a little bit of lemon. So drinkable but also worth savouring if you can manage it.
Next up we had the 2019 Pinot Blanc, a completely different beast - lemony but with lower acidity and slightly buttery even, but with a mineral backbone. This accompanied our excellent pizzas alongside the Endgrain 2019, which for me was the absolute standout. Fantastically elderflower-y, it had a savouriness on the nose that reminded me of the very best sour beers. It was citrussy but rich, textured and saline - super complex but beautiful on its own and with pizza. I could honestly drink this all day.
After our pizzas, we headed out front to the bar terrace overlooking the vineyards, where we finished off our visit with a very special bottle of Athingmill (special not just because it’s a magnum). Athingmill is an anagram of Tillingham, and it contains a little bit of everything they made in 2019, both wines and ciders. The fact that it comes together to make something delicious really seems like showing off, but if you can then why not... The colour of pink candyfloss, it smells really complex, at once both caramel and nutty, but with fresh raspberries and a salami-esque savouriness (in a good way). Sherbetty in the mouth, it’s pure fresh fruit; raspberry and peach with crisp acidity and tons of texture from skin contact and ageing in qvevri. Fun but absolutely not at the expense of the resulting drink, this really shows the talent of winemaker Ben Walgate.
We had a truly fab time at Tillingham, it has such a lovely relaxed atmosphere that we maybe don’t tend to associate with wineries over here - more chilled Antipodean than stuffy British - and we highly recommend visiting once we’re allowed, but in the meantime, treat yourself at home from our selection!