James Erskine wine label, Jauma (Yow-ma), is a thoughtful study on the nature of wine, terroir, and a curiosity towards change and the nature of style. When James established the label in 2009 it was on the back of a successful career as a sommelier and a student of wine & agriculture. His eyes were on producing minimal intervention wines made from McLaren Vale Grenache, Syrah & Chenin Blanc. Organic farming and minimal intervention has always been at the centre of his philosophy and his drive has been towards a new style in the region in which the raw fruit expression takes centre stage. His application, intellect, and success has seen influence grow around the nation and around the globe. As an individual producer on his own journey, James has made a lasting and quietly persuasive impact on the minds of many of the producers you would find today at Rootstock or in this ‘New Wave’ of Australian wine. Notably, James’ involvement as a founding member of Natural Selection Theory with Tom Shobbrook, Anton van Klopper & Sam Hughes, has seen him in the centre of almost all conversations about the Australian & international Natural Wine Movement and his wines are the touchstone of what is good about the movement and that it is possible to make fault free wines this way - and to do so without sulphur. As James commented recently to a friend, “The AWRI wasn’t very interested in our work for a very long time. Now, they are very, very interested. They want to know how we’re making good wine without any faults this way.”
The wines of Jauma are so good and of such distinctive style that it’s easy to use them as examples of what producers of Natural Wine aim to produce but it’s limiting to identify them as natural wine before seeing them as Australian wines. These are, after all, exceptional wines of Australian terroir and likewise defining of a new Australian style. The Grenache hold that fine, sandy hum of the McLaren Vale soils; the blends are again soil & vine-driven projects. The Chenin Blanc is structured yet luscious.