Visiting Jordan Winery In Alexander Valley

Last week I had the opportunity to tour Jordan Vineyards & Winery, as well as taste their wines. While I had been there once in the past, it had been a number of years, so I was eager to see what if anything had changed in the ensuing years. Jordan Winery is a classic Sonoma County Estate, both because of their facility and the wines they produce. In a world where many producers have an ever increasing roster of wines, Jordan has remained hyper-focused on two things; Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. If you’re going to train the laser so closely on two varietals, it’s a very good idea to get those wines right.

I had the fortune of being an overnight guest on the Jordan property. That allowed me to really take things in and spend quite a number of hours just thinking about them and their wines. In my time there I had the opportunity to taste through several vintages each of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. I didn't make formal notes, but my general impressions are included here.

At one time the Chardonnay was taken from their home estate in Alexander Valley. That’s no longer the case as they now source fruit under long term contracts from growers in the Russian River Valley. In tasting through the 2005, 2007 & 2008 vintages of Chardonnay the overall quality of the wine was obvious. There was a clear consistency in style, yet obvious vintage variation that allowed each wine to speak on its own. Most impressive to me was the 2005. Not that it was significantly better than the other two. In fact it would be tough to distinguish between the three as far as general quality goes. What knocked me out was how fresh, vital and full of fruit the 2005 still was. At 5 years old it showed no sign of letting up and I’d be surprised if it doesn’t drink well for several more years. Certainly the younger wines were even fresher and showed off a bit more bold fruit, with the 2005 featuring more mineral characteristics. Looking forward they all seem headed down the same delicious and long lived path.

The story with the Cabernet Sauvignon was similar. The older vintage of that wine I had the chance to taste was the 2000. It also displayed much more vibrant fruit than I would have expected at this point. I was particularly impressed with the holding power of this wine when taking into account all the 2000 Cabernet Sauvignons from both Sonoma and Napa Valley that are unimpressive. That wine goes a long way towards supporting the axiom that great winemakers shine in tough vintages. Rob Davis who has been at Jordan since the beginning has done an impressive job of helming these wines over the years without getting complacent. The Cabernet Sauvignon program has also had some changes over the last few years. At one time all the fruit was from their Estate. They now source some fruit from other growers. Mendocino is one of the notable locations they go to for outside fruit. Their goal is to make the best wine possible and if that includes some fruit sourcing that’s the direction they take. The more current releases of Cabernet Sauvignon I tasted again showed consistency of quality as well overall style. Despite being located in Alexander Valley Jordan is very much making wines that take old world styling into account. Balance and longevity are both big parts of the program.

The inside and outside of the Jordan Winery facility are beautiful and each has a charm that makes it seem it’s been there much longer than the 30+ years it has been. Touring the property is a revelation. It’s hard to properly describe how mammoth it is in size and scope. Perhaps the only thing more impressive than that is the shear beauty on display. Many wineries are almost all vineyard. This isn’t a surprise when you take into account the cost of acreage. Jordan has its vineyards of course, but they’re surrounded by acres and acres of unspoiled land.

Often times when I reach for a bottle of wine I go for the new and unknown. That can be fun and exciting. If you want a sure bet though Jordan Winery is a great go to choice. They continue to bring an excellent product to market almost four decades into their existence. Many producers with similarly big reputations have gotten apathetic and rested on their laurels. To the contrary it’s clear to me that Jordan keeps reaching for the brass ring. They respect their own past, but they constantly strive to tweak their present, on a constant drive for perfection. So if you’re reaching for Alexander Valley Cabernet or Chardonnay these folks are worth the time and the money. If you’re going to taste wine in Alexander Valley, it’s worth making an appointment. Their staff is filled with friendly people loaded with information about their winery. The photos below will give you a hint about the beauty that awaits you if you visit.

Photos by David Vermeire