New Sussex restaurant boasts an eclectic wine list

The latest addition to the Pig group of restaurants with rooms opened its doors last Monday – the first in Sussex.

The Pig in the South Downs
The Pig in the South Downs

Located in Madehurst near Arundel, The Pig in the South Downs has been awaited with eager anticipation by the growing population of Pig aficionados.

Until now, Sussex residents have had to trek off to far-flung places such as Kent, Hampshire or even Cornwall to indulge in the special atmosphere which reigns supreme in the Pig restaurants. While they have been more than happy to do so, The Pig in the South Downs is on the doorstep, lending itself to regular visits.

Housed in a grade II listed building, it nestles in some of the most beautiful countryside of England, in the midst of the South Downs National Park and even has its own vineyard for sparkling wine production, planned to start in a few years’ time. At only two acres (0.83 ha), it is small, yet surprisingly the same size as many vineyards in France’s Champagne region.

Continuing the principles of the Pig group, the eighth member of the family has a large kitchen garden providing a wide range of produce for the restaurant and the famous 25 Mile Menu. Robin Hutson, founder of the group, has always been committed to sustainability, as well as supporting the local economy around each of the restaurants, which source super-local ingredients. The policy creates regional differences, creating specific regionality in each menu which changes with the seasons.

The Pig ‘experience’ though, is not just about the food, however fresh and delicious it may be. It is a combination of wholesome dishes, served in a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, which combines sophistication with modernity, tradition and happy, efficient staff. Not an easy combination to achieve, but one which is the signature of all the Pigs without exception, including the latest arrival in Sussex. Well done Robin! You’ve done it again.

Of course, the other hugely important element which underpins the success of all great restaurants, is the wine list. With well over 200 wines featured, the choice may at first seem a little daunting, but fear not, as expert help is at hand in the form of Luke Harbor, head sommelier of the group who is now based at the new Pig, having moved from The Pig at Bridge Place in Kent. Having selected all the wines on the eclectic and varied list, Luke’s knowledge is impressive, along with a charming and fun personality, fitting right in with the Pig group philosophy.

Highlighting the fact that the Pig in the South Downs is surrounded by local vineyards, more than 25 wines from Sussex are featured, alongside other English wines from other counties. Wonderful classics such as Auxey Duresses 2018 1er Cru from Burgundy, or Chateau Cantemerle 2001 Grand Cru Classé Haut Medoc from Bordeaux, sit alongside syrah from Chile, cabernet sauvignon from Margaret River in Australia and Tempranillo Ribera del Duero from Spain.

But if you are prepared for the unusual, try a Zweigelt 2018 from Austria, a Baboso Negro 2019 from the Canary Islands, or a Cinsault 2012 from Swartland in South Africa. If you’re not sure which of these would go best with your braised lamb shoulder or Trenchmore farm chargrilled sirloin, then ‘Call for Luke’!

Richard Esling is a wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. He runs agency and consultancy WineWyse, is founder and principal of Sussex Wine Academy and is chairman of Arundel Wine Society