Feature Producer – Jauma
Disrupting The Status Quo
James Erskine has built a career on his discerning palate. Over the last decade, the 2013 Young Gun of Wine has earnestly disrupted the status quo, beginning with a considered assault on what it means to make celebrated McLaren Vale Grenache.
But let’s backtrack a little. Studying to become a hotelier, James segued into winedom and found his feet as a celebrated, globe-trotting Australian Somm. His FOH commitments were enhanced by plenty of extra-curriculars, from experimental small batch winemaking to Adelaide Hills vineyard consulting.
James officially ditched the corkscrew and rolled up his sleeves in 2010, landing in the diverse landscape of McLaren Vale microclimates to make Grenache.
What does it reveal about a person to begin their venture in a town where the bar sits so high? Confidence? Naivety? Or clarity of vision?
Around this time in the mainstream, Grenache was really beginning to shine away from blending, standing on its own two feet as the hero grape it is. Off the beaten track, a glorious emergence of more natural and progressive Grenache styles were finding a voice, exciting the taste buds of committed and new wine drinkers alike.
James’ Grenache play stirred the pot in the best possible way. Extending beyond McLaren Vale to put down roots in the Adelaide Hills, his 2021s show the exhilarating breadth of his capabilities, from cocktail-esque Arneis to an ongoing suite of Grenache expressions. We can’t get enough.
Birdsey Seaview Cabernet Franc 2021
Why We Love This Wine
Exciting The Taste Buds
Tended to by the talented Fiona Wood, a number of leased blocks at Jauma date back to the 1940s. James purchased an Adelaide Hills orchard in 2018, where he’s maintained some cherry trees, and planted some grapes.
In order to make wines with zero inhibitions, it’s important to James that any sites he leases or owns maintain NASAA certified organic accreditation.
The team have carefully considered and implemented a biological farming system with similar strategies across their fruit, from diverse cover crops to increase water use and reduce disease, to extensively considered composting.
James and Fiona have worked to increase biome on leaf area in the vineyard by introducing an aerated compost tea rich in fungi. This encourages an organic, natural system that increases soil health while fighting off mildew and fungi that have a negative impact on new growth.
Now truly convinced that sulphur for sulphur’s sake comes at a cost to the taste and longevity of the wine, all Jauma wines are preservative and additive free. While sulphur might tie together certain characters at the time of bottling, James believes sulphur-free wines can age beautifully, settling down their wilder characters while retaining their youth and energy well beyond the shelf life of their sulphur-licked counterparts.
The rippling upfront energy and wild unpredictability of James’ wines always precede enchanting depth, manifesting in complex tertiary notes in the Pet Nats and whites, and a brooding length in the reds.