Published on January 30, 2023
Nestled in the Garden of England.
Yotes Court is nestled in the Garden of England, between the picturesque villages of West Peckham and Mereworth in Kent, and led by progressive techniques and sustainable values; however, keeping in tune with time-honoured tradition. It all started with a magnificent Manor House which owner Susannah Ricci restored, alongside relandscaping the grounds and the cultivation of the vines for their spectacular wine. This transformation of a little corner of Kent set the philosophy that underpins the entire brand even now.
The land is a beautiful south sloping site looking towards Bidborough Ridge and Tunbridge Wells with free-draining soil full of chunks of Kentish ragstone. When it comes to the soil for growing the perfect grapes the rockier the better. The continuous weathering of this parent material results in fertile fine clays and free draining sands. The south-sloping aspect allows these rocky soils to heat up relatively quickly, thus altering the microclimate enough to enhance the vine and grape maturity requires for fine wine production.
Master of Wine, Stephen Skelton has hailed Yotes Court as the best site he has planted in 45 years, confirming that the land was ideal for vines and advised on the purchase of the vines and assisted with the recruitment of Tony Purdie as Vineyard Manager who relocated from his home in New Zealand in time to supervise the first vines being planted in 2016. The land is, in fact, perfect for vines – frost-free, free-draining, sheltered, sunny, south-facing slopes, green sand at the top, heavier clay as the slope bottoms out and stony ragstone to retain the heat.
In the early years the fruit was grown exclusively for one of the UK’s leading still and sparkling wine producers, Chapel Down, with 60 acres of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes harvested annually for their Traditional Method sparkling wines. In 2018, Susannah Ricci decided to expand the area under vines and planted a further 10 acres with a view to crafting wines under the Yotes Court brand. They planted Bacchus and Pinot Blanc vines in 2018 at the highest point in the vineyard, 140m above sea level; a sunny former apricot orchard. These vines produced their first harvest in October 2020. A year later Pinot Gris and Divico were planted, and they were first harvested in October 2021.
Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris will be familiar to people who love these wine styles from areas like Alsace. Bacchus is a delicious aromatic variety becoming popular in the UK due to its suitability to our climate and ability to pair with our local foods. Divico is a new red variety specially created with natural disease resistance which fits well with Yotes Court’s sustainability practices, and of course, the flavours to create high-quality wines.
In August 2020, Yotes Court was amongst the first to achieve accreditation as a Sustainable Producer under the Sustainable Wines of Great Britain scheme. Tony Purdie, Yotes Court’s Vineyard Manager, uses science and technology to inform his decisions. He is able to minimise the use of sprays and fuel, increase biodiversity in the vineyard and protect the fertility of the soils for generations to come.
In August 2020 Yotes Court Vineyard became one of the first 12 producers to become accredited under the Sustainable Wines of Great Britain scheme. Sustainable farming is a holistic approach to land and crop management that aims to maintain soil health, increase biodiversity, minimise the use of water, chemicals and fuel and increase organic matter to improve soil structure. Mulching the vine clippings within the rows is one of the ways to do this. It allows for on-site composting and does two jobs at once, halving tractor fuel usage. A sustainably managed vineyard will look less conventionally neat but reduced mowing and strimming means more meadow flowers, more beneficial insects, and more birds. Having been a working orchard in an area of Kent that has a long-proven history of fruit and hop production, viticulture is but an evolutionary adaption to a warming climate. The Romans cultivated vineyards in Kent during a previous climate warming phase, so the vines at Yotes Court are not new. It is just a new way to cultivate the land sustainably to keep local production alive and the community involved.
This wine is fresh and aromatic, it has aromas of gooseberry, cassis bud and green pineapple on the nose, followed by a zesty palate of pithy pink grapefruit. A classic English Bacchus, produced in Kent.
Pale straw yellow and made using the Traditional Method, this crisp sparkling wine has aromas of white pear, gentle florals, preserved lemon and freshly baked bread. On the palate it has a medium-weight mouth feel with a gentle mousse and a fresh citrus and pear drop finish.
This wine has struck the perfect balance between a rich Alsatian Pinot Gris and the lighter Pinot Grigio of Northern Italy to create a beautifully fresh, delicate & flavourful wine. This dry wine has aromas of anise, white lily, pear drops and nougat with a silky mouthfeel and a zesty lime finish.
Gentle aromas of pear and spearmint mingle with floral jasmine and lilac in an intricate bouquet. This fresh garden on the nose is balanced with a light savoury toastiness from oak, a plump and centred mouth feel and a long, fresh finish to make Pinot Blanc a versatile wine for food pairing. On the palate expect to find notes of thyme alongside orchard fruits.
This light, pale pink Rosé is vibrant and fruity with aromas of baked red berries, watermelon and peach. On the palate there are gentle notes of strawberry yoghurt leading to a crisp cranberry and citrus finish.
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About the author
Chloe looks after all copywriting and proof-reading for Drink Warehouse UK, working with the Marketing team to deliver educational content to all our customers. She has spent many years in the hospitality sector, moving from behind the bar to now helping venues to stock their own. You can find more from Chloe about beer, cider, spirits, wine, non-alcoholic, soft drinks and RTDs all over our blogs, website, social media and Set The Bar magazine.