Our Wild Ferment Chardonnay is part of our Winemaker’s Edition series. Here, we speak with winemaker Tom Jones about the new vintage of this fascinating project.  

Winemakers talk about terroir - a lot. They strive to craft wines which are the thumbprint of a time and place. But expressing terroir can be even more zoomed in than simply focusing on soil and fruit.

Perhaps the most specific, unique – and unsung - element which can be brought into play when it comes to terroir is native yeast. 

It’s this variable which fascinates winemaker Tom Jones, and which he focuses on with our Wild Ferment project.  

Last year’s release, the 2021 vintage, was crafted from fruit grown in Commanders vineyard. Those lucky enough to taste it experienced something pretty special (you can read more here).  

For the 2022 vintage, Tom wanted to try something different. “For this release, we used fruit from Boot Hill,” says Tom. “By far and away the majority of the fruit we use comes from these two vineyards, Commanders and Boot Hill, so we wanted to get a comparison between the two. 

“We wanted to be able to see how the natural yeast express themselves. The whole rationale was to treat the fruit the same, so we can taste the difference vineyard to vineyard.” 

The winemaking process was, explains Tom, virtually identical – by which he means every bit as hands-off (and every bit as nerve-wracking) as the previous vintages. “I stirred the lees after fermentation, and found it had a really positive effect – adding weight on the palate but without swamping the fruit,” says Tom.  

Having recently tasted the 2021 vintage, we can already see how well these wines mature. “The oak barrel fermentation really helps that,” says Tom. “And we’ve used exactly the same neutral oak year on year." 

This wild yeast winemaking is a process which really speaks to Tom’s personal winemaking style. “I've always firmly believed in natural fermentation. I think it allows the vineyard the best opportunity to express itself and to express what’s unique,” he says.  

When compared with Chardonnay Guinevere, which is made using the same fruit, there’s a discernable difference in wine style. “The Wild Ferments are bigger, rounder and lush,” says Tom. “This is especially true of the 2022, which is a fantastic vintage.

“On the nose, there’s a dynamic intensity – baked citrus, citrus wax, stone fruits and tropical melon notes too. There’s a floral note too, along with ginger.  

“In the glass, it’s supple, rounded and juicy. I get notes of orange, plum, fig leaves and there’s tropical melon and pineapple too. There’s buttered toast and a classic Gusbourne saline, mineral finish.” 

As ever, only a couple of barrels of Tom’s Wild Ferment Chardonnay were made. This limited-edition wine is available to purchase here