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James Erskine is a ray of sunshine: thoughtful, gentle, and fiercely earnest if you can be such a thing. He’s also a winemaker who knows what he believes, growing and refining his focus along with the evolution of his wine label Jauma (Catalan for ‘James’), which began in 2010. He’s one of the pioneers of natural wine in the recent explosion of great younger, independent producers working in the Adelaide Hills, and his single-vineyard Grenaches rank among some of the finest examples of a new Australia, one that doesn’t rely on weight, power, or opacity for beauty. James produces Grenache in its highest expression—aromatic, vibrant, and transparent.
James long has worked with a farmer partner, Fiona Wood, for most of the vineyards from which he sources fruit. Everything is certified organic, but Fiona, her father Ralph, and James’ other farmer partner David Gartleman practice many viticultural strategies that extend past organics, aiming for what James calls “a biological farming system.” Grapes are sprayed with aerated compost tea to avoid sulfur & copper applications for mildew and fungi; some vineyards have biodynamic preps 500 and 501 applied. In various vineyards, there are over two dozen cover or co-crops for biodiversity; close attention is paid to not over or under-cropping of the plants
Certified organic. 100% Grenache. One of James’ single-vineyard bottlings, named ‘Ralph’ after the owner of the block, viticulturalist Fiona Wood’s father. This bottling is from the same vineyard as ‘Alfred’s,’ but these 28-year-old vines are at the top of the block, where there’s more natural water available to the dry-farmed vines. As a result, this block yields more bunches, lower alcohol, and slower-ripening fruit. It’s vinified with all free-run juice, no skins in the pressing—the same technique for all the single-vineyard Grenaches—then aged in a used barrel for up to one year. ‘Ralph’s’ always displays an anise-like flavor on top of blackberry and raspberry, with a distinct mineral backbone that comes from the ironstone-dominated soils of the vineyard. Perfumed and elegant. Unfined, unfiltered, zero added SO2.
Grape Variety: 100% Grenache
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