Jordan Winery – 30 years of fabulous wine with a new twist in hospitality

At the crest of the winding driveway, a surrounding forest of mossy oak opens to a towering, ivy-clad French chateau. A pristine property presents a panoramic view of rolling vineyards. A pygmy goat grazes among olive trees in the distance while songbirds fill the air. Although this could fit a country setting in Provence, it is actually the Jordan Winery in Alexander Valley.

Jordan’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay have circled the globe for over thirty years finding a home in the White House and Queen Elizabeth’s collection. With the initial guidance of the legendary André Tchelistcheff in 1976, winemaker Rob Davis has remained at the helm for each and every vintage. The Jordan winery has truly achieved continuity in quality.

Recently, the winery has opened its doors to a fresh experience in hospitality involving wine, epicurean food, gold-medal winning olive oil and a tasting of library wines.

“We want that ‘wow’ factor,” remarks Andria Herron, the estate sommelier.

As we enter the chateau’s grand dining room, she pours a glass of Jordan’s 2005 Chardonnay. Among the tall French windows, silk-paneled walls and an immense fireplace, we sit on plush Louis XV chairs at a round, cherry wood table. A solid sterling silver platter is brought to us. On top is a shell showcasing a flash-seared Peruvian scallop on a bed of Sonoma pickled chanterelle mushrooms prepared by estate executive chef, Todd Knoll.

While breathing in the Chardonnay, citrus notes leap from the glass. A dramatic fusion of kiwi, Asian pear and Meyer lemon intermingle the mid-palate. The wine finishes with ripened granny smith apple acidity. “One thing I love about Jordan’s wines is there is never one flavor profile overpowering the other,” comments Andria. As the Chardonnay marries with the food, the wine and the mushrooms reach a harmonious note allowing an unexpected hint of the scallop to linger for a few seconds longer. This is a wonderful way to start the wine tasting.

Jordan’s educational approach is just as impressive. When sommelier Andria joined the family, her expertise had been honed by working with the likes of renowned master chefs, Alain Ducasse and Joseph Keller.

Following the Chardonnay pairing, Andria places down a Bordeaux wine glass and pours the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon. A surprisingly playful bouquet of violet wafts above the glass. The silky mouth feel dances with Bing cherry and blackberry while exiting firmly and slowly. This vintage would pair elegantly with venison or roasted duck.

Andria then introduces the 2006 Jordan extra virgin olive oil from their Tuscan olive trees. Cold pressed within 24 hours, its crisp grassiness and hints of white pepper pairs beautifully with the slices of Fuji apple and the cubes of artisan bread laid beside it. A great flavor enhancer.

For the final tasting, Andria introduces the 2000 Cab. This hearty wine offers lovely hints of lavender laying the path for robust stone fruit flavors of cherry compote and mocha outlined by subtle oak.

Paired with the Cab is an array of cheeses including a triple cream brie from Vermont aptly titled “Constant Bliss”, a 6 month cave aged semi-soft sheep’s milk cheese from Wisconsin called “Dante”, a crumbling cheese from Lancashire, England titled “Kirkham” and a piece of biscotti baked with figs and nuts. The brie does its job by toning down the tannins in the wine thus catapulting the dark fruit notes onto the taste buds. “Dante” takes the wine in a different direction by really complementing the wines weight and the biscotti acts a great palate cleanser.

The tour also includes a stroll on the chateau’s trimmed grounds. We loop to a long volcanic rock wall with wider views of the vineyards. Nearby is chef Knoll’s garden where they grow heirloom tomatoes, broccoli, edible flowers among other organic produce often used in their pairings.

Through each step of the tour, Andria cites facts about the winery and wine in an open forum fashion while always encouraging questions from the newcomer and connoisseur alike. Andria states, “Part of my role here is not only to educate our guests, but also to constantly evolve these tours and tastings, so if you do come back a year from now it will be a little bit different”.

It has been said that wine is poetry in a bottle. If so, Jordan has created a masterpiece.

James Claus
(c) 2008 Artisan Wine Tours, LLC