Bordeaux in California

Today’s Story: Jordan Vineyard & Winery

Jordan Vineyard & Winery was founded in 1972 by Tom and Sally Jordan, a husband and wife duo from Colorado. During the early years of their marriage, Tom and Sally shared a passion for French food and wine that they expanded upon by traveling throughout France, ultimately realizing they wanted a vineyard of their own. Not believing they could realistically purchase one in France, the couple had their epiphany over a glass of Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour by realizing they could achieve their dream of crafting French-inspired wines in California. It was May of 1972 when this passion came to fruition and Tom and Sally signed the deed for their property in Alexander Valley.

At this time both Alexander Valley and the Napa Valley were quite rustic, full of prune orchards and cattle without much vineyard land. Tom and Sally removed the prune orchards on their property and set about planting 200 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot on the valley floor. Two years later, in 1974, the couple realized it was time to construct a winery and plans began for their 58,000 square foot French-inspired chateau overlooking the vineyards. The chateau took 18 months to complete, though the production wing was completed first one week before the 1976 harvest – Jordan’s first vintage.

Funny enough, Jordan hired André Tchelistcheff in 1974 as an enology consultant. If that name sounds familiar, it should because I wrote about André in my post on Beaulieu Vineyard. André was essentially the architect behind the Georges de Latour bottling, coincidentally the same wine that proved impetus for Tom and Sally to start Jordan, and he helped the couple select fermenters, oak tanks, barrels, and picker-stemmer and presses. André also hired Jordan’s winegrower Rob Davis to oversee the first vintage in 1976, and Rob remains winegrower to this day.

In 2005, Tom and Sally’s son John took over as CEO of the winery and while he remains fully committed to carrying on his parents’ vision he is making important steps in bringing the estate into the modern world. One of his major initiatives, for example, is making the winery more eco-friendly through sustainable practices and more diverse uses of the land. This endeavor so far includes “reducing the winery’s energy consumption, composting all of the winery’s organic waste, and installing hillside solar arrays to offset 75% of the winery’s electricity usage” – source. One of the most important traditions John carries, on the other hand, is hospitality. Jordan was one of the first (if not the first) wineries in Alexander Valley or Napa Valley with an executive chef in house and a hospitality wing that married wine tasting with food and entertainment with such ease. A visit to this winery is a must if you are in the area.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec; 13.8% ABV

The 2015 Cab is an opaque, deep ruby in color with purple at its core. This wine requires some time to open up due to its youth, but once it does the nose emits aromas of black cherry, blueberry, pomegranate, purple florals, cedar, tobacco, graphite, smoked red meat, and a hint of vanilla. Once in the mouth, this gorgeous wine showcases notes of ripe cherry, boysenberry, black raspberry, earthy green herbs, cigar box, iron, and clove. The 2015 Cab is medium-to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) yet dusty tannins, and a long finish dominated by notes of cherry, earth, and black peppery spice. I think Jordan achieved their goal in producing Bordeaux-like wines in California, particularly with this 2015.

Price: $55. Jordan is a great value for this price range, as this drinks like a wine 25-50% more expensive. These wines have great aging potential as well, with many Jordans drinking beautifully after 10+ years of cellaring. Pair this with filet mignon, lamb, roasted chicken, or grilled pork loin.