August 2010

The Son Shines

By: Meridith May
Photos by the author

"Jordan Winery is a member of a shrinking club of independent and family-owned wineries," John Jordan tells THE TASTING PANEL. The handsome Jordan expresses himself as the complex man he is-winery CEO, pilot, attorney and bass fisherman-with a core of dry humor.

"In an environment dominated by larger corporations, we have the ability to make decisions that perhaps in the short run don't seem to be immediately profitable. But because we don't answer to Wall Street, our winemakers' final authority has little, if any, input from the accounting department."

John Jordan in front of the barrel room, with a bottle of 2006 Jordan Chardonnay.
The family philosophy, introduced by John's father Tom Jordan in 1976, succinctly expresses the Jordan standard: "Quality is first."

To further illustrate and emphasize the Jordan modus operandi, John points out another expensive but worthy project. "We extend the release of our Cabernet Sauvignon. Each vintage lasts 13 months in the market, and our release date in late spring allows that extra bottle-age time. For our house style, it's important to release the wine at its optimum time, despite the expense of warehousing and bottle aging. It's worth the wait."

For the Chardonnay program, it's all about the acidity-but an acidity that can mellow over time. "The fruit from the Russian River comes in at pretty high acid levels," notes Ronald Du Preez, Assistant Winemaker.


"The wine blossoms in the bottle, like a delicate flower. The bottling process is hard on the wine, as is the transfer of liquid from big to small tanks. It can cause bottle shock or oxygen intrusion, so we let it rest. We're just not a formula winery; our production technique-oak, bottle-aging or ML-changes from year to year."

What doesn't change is night or early morning harvesting in cool temperatures, and floating between various Dijon clones. "We also stipulate that all our Chardonnay is hand-harvested," Du Preez adds.

 Stylistically, Jordan Chardonnay emulates a Meursault style, a shift that was instituted intentionally in the mid-1990s. The wine is crisp yet rich, creamy-textured yet bright, apple-sweet with lime, flint and honey notes.

Longtime Winemaker Rob Davis, who was mentored by legendary enologist André Tschelistcheff, has a saying: "We pay for the soil." Highly-regarded Russian River fruit fetches a premium, even with Jordan's long-term contract; and for the reds, the Alexander Valley terroir is diverse. "The sites make all the difference," notes Davis, "and the gravelly soils and long growing seasons preserves complexity."
The Jordan Winery, on a 1500-acre property in the Alexander Valley, is modeled after a 18th-century French estate.


Jordan Cabernet: Affordable Luxury

"My dad fell in love with good food before he was enamored with great wine," Jordan divulges. Our house style demands that the wine complement the meal as a happy, not dominant, participant."

The soft, feminine style of Jordan 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon makes it a supporting actor in pleasures of the table. Its density of fruit hefts a comfy weight on the tongue. The cassis and blackberry fruit is highly developed, in a silky glove.


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