Jordan Winery is a hidden gem in Alexander Valley. Up a winding driveway, through the woods, and yes – even over a creek, you meander up to the upper vineyard of the winery, where the French inspired chateau winery sits. It was founded in 1972, coincidentally the same year both I and our host john jordan, were born – based on the dream of creating world class Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in Sonoma. I’d say that they have accomplished that dream quite nicely.
John Jordan, CEO
Tom Jordan began the winery in 1972, when he signed the deed the day John, his son, was born; the first blocks in the lower vineyard were purchased then, and in 1974 the property was expanded to incorporate the upper ranch of the vineyards. Construction began on the winery in 1976, and the first Cabernet Sauvignon was released in 1980. Fast forward 25 years, and John, the prodigal son returned to the home ranch where he grew up, to take over. John Jordan, the current CEO, took over operations in 2005 after a successful career in law. In fact, he STILL works in law, which is rather amazing considering what it takes to run a place like Jordan well. When he took over, John strived to find the best of old world techniques and new world know how, including sustainable farming techniques and a unique focus on a welcoming hospitality center which includes a private library tasting room as well as Michelin star worthy dining experience.
On our arrival to the winery, we were greeted by John, Lisa Mattson (@jordanwinery) – my friend and Jordon’s Communications Director, as well as a great video blogger-, Brent Young – the viticulturist, and hors d’oeuvres by Chef Todd Knoll who was tucked away in the kitchen preparing our nosh. The 2008 Russian River Chardonnay that was paired with the tidbids was not at all what I was expecting and absolutely delightful. I found lively citrus, stone fruit and a creamy mineral finish, while being subtle and not at all over oaked or overly full of buttery malolactic fermentation. The lemonade flavors gave way to baking spices, green apples, and Asian pears. this wine is treated with only 55% new French Oak, while the rest is in 1-2 year old barres; a full 25% is stainless steel fermented, which allows the fruit to shine through. The 75% of barrel fermented wine balances out the stainless steel and the 28% malolactic fermentation rounds out the wine while retaining the crisp refreshing chard that even this ABC curmudgeon would love. This wine was literally just released (May 1st) and at $29 I would recommend it for summer sipping.
After our chardonnay, we stepped in tot he dining room which is in the end of one wing of the tank room. And by tank room, I don’t mean large steel drums. I mean beautiful, hand built oak tanks, which look as if they should sing to you. In the dining room, our tables were set with beautifully hand calligraphered corks with our names, as well as a menu card (which clearly I could not see well as it’s blurry here).
We began lunch with 3 chardonnays – the 2005, 2007, and some more of the 2008 we tasted outside. The 2005 Chardonnay had a bit of age on it, which I found to show a touch of petrol, with creamy lemon curd and richer earthy bold profile. 37% was fermented in new french oak, with extended sur lie contact to round out the palate. Again, the malolactic fermentation was limited to 76%, which preserved the green apple and lime zest flavors. For me, this was my least favorite of the three whites – but if you enjoy a creamier chardonnay do try it. the 2007 Chardonnay showed more grapefruit than the 2008, and 48% was fermented in new French Oak. This year had more ofa spiced pear favor to it, and I can imagine it going quite well with fish dishes and apple pie. All in all, I really identify with Jordan’s style of chardonnay, and I am still learning to love new wines that are made in the Burgundian tradition, with less oak and subtle maloactic fermention which lets the fruit speak for itself.
Next, we moved on the to Cabs. We were treated to a lineup that is jealousy inducing, with a 1999, 2005, and 2006 cabernet Sauvgnon. The 1999 was soft and supple, and simple a luxuriously plush wine. The velvety black and dark red fruit showed plums, blackberries, and juicy raspberries with a touch of chocolate cherry on top. 1999 was the first harvest from the newly acquired upper vineyard, and the wine has 23.2% merlot, which adds to the soft fruti flavors. It was aged for a year in oak barrels, but also for an additional 6 months in American Oak tanks, which produce less contact with the wine and therefore more subtle oak flavors. Yum! I adored this wine, and found that it went with my duck quite well (everyone else had lamb). The 2005 has 5% of Petite Verdot bleed in, and I could really taste even that small addition. It was earthy and robust, and much more of a masculine wine than the 1999. I found smokey tobacco leaf, coffee and cola, with black walnuts and figs followed by a touch of anise. With a year in oak (64% French) , it was tasty but I think it would be better over time. The 2006 is a baby, and really needs to lay down for a while. It was just released, and has 4.5% Petite Verdot as well as 19.5% Merlot. It is a young wine, full of cherries and cassis, but just isn’t ready yet.