Jordan Winery: A 2010 Harvest Estate Stay

DSC06300Two weekends back, the Lady and I had the very fortunate experience of a tour, a tasting and an overnight stay at the breath-snatching estate of Jordan Vineyard & Winery (Twitter, WineLog) in Alexander Valley.  Blessed with a perfect harvest weekend of weather, we we able to visit courtesy of Communications Director (and photographer/videographer extraordinaire) Lisa Mattson.  After dropping off the Pug with the parents in Napa, we headed across the valleys in the brilliant morning sunshine.  The weather really was tremendous that weekend, sunny, a few puffy clouds and about 80 degrees at its peak.  I really had no idea what to expect for the next couple of days however, since the Jordan site didn’t really have a whole lot of information about the four suites or homes that were available for overnight visits.

Jordan Vineyard & WineryJordan Winery is a storied name in Alexander Valley, one of the best known areas for Cab in Sonoma County. Mr. Tom Jordan, a petroleum geologist, happened to make a significant amount of money in the 60’s and found the means to pursue another of his passions namely, fine French wines such as Bordeaux.  He spent a few years searching the whole of NorCal to find the perfect conditions for his own new world chateau.  in 1972 he found his ideal in the sleepy Alexander Valley, founding Jordan Vineyard on 275 acres with his wife Sally.  This founders’ day was rather auspicious as their son John Jordan was born the same day, who’s now the CEO! Two years later the winery was founded on a new plot of 1300 acres, nearby.  Not one to skimp on the details, Mr. Jordan hired the legend known as André Tchelistcheff as a consulting winemaker.  He quickly recommended a young scrub fresh out of UC Davis, my alma mater, to begin as the head winemaker for the young winery.  Then twenty-two year old Rob Davis has been the winemaker ever since, allowing Jordan the unusual luxury of all 34 years of their vintages to be contained within a single, jovial brain.

Jordan Estate SuiteJordan Estate SuiteWhile the Lady and I stayed as trade guests, the winery is actually a rather secluded estate with some unusually cool parts to their wine club.  One can only visit the winery by appointment, limited to a small number per day, up to a maximum of 12 guests per appointment.  The wine club is very innovative and works by a points system, almost like a credit card.  Jordan Estate Rewards (reward point levels are currently being re-evaluated and lowerd) points are granted with every purchase and once you save enough points, you can stay overnight at the estate, just like a trade guest. The rooms (and house!) are simply stunning…so much so that when Beth and I entered our suite, I let out an accidental “holy crap!”  It was easily 600+ sq ft, with the most amazing bronze bathtub, for which I will be ever tortured to find and buy for the Lady.  We were happy guests.

Taking in the Dilworth Cab - Jordan WineryClaire Holloway was our host and tour guide for the day and we met her along with two other trade guests from Benny’s Chop House in Chicago.  R Dilworth Vineyard delivery (by Dick, himself) - Jordan WineryWe got a great history lesson about the vineyard and winery underneath the slightly swaying trees, then headed off to the winery, all of which is contained within the original 5800 sq ft winery, built over 9 months back in 1976. Indeed, our rooms were attached to the side of that same building, which we could look up and see when we entered the barrel room.  Rob Davis, Jordan Winery harvest 2010Harvest was in full swing, with Rob and assistant winemakers Ronald Du Preez and Maggie Kruse taking in the last of the Cabernet Sauvignon for the day from grower (and delivery man, apparently) Dick Dillworth.  Dick had a great compliment for Rob, saying “one thing I like about Rob: he’s hands-on. That shows a good winemaker.”  We saw just as much ourselves, especially during a very interesting and long chat with Rob while we relaxed on the expansive patio in the evening sunshine after the tour.  He had all of the vineyard maps still in his pocket from his early morning visits, many hours previous.  Despite this hands-on approach, all of the staff were more than happy to stop their activities and talk with us about their work and answer my copious questions.  It was a very unique experience…we’re usually kept far away from the working winery during the craziness of harvest.

Jordan Winery barrel roomFollowing a barrel room tour (hello up there, room!), we headed back into the inner part of the winery for sit down tasting and amuse-bouche pairing, courtesy of estate Executive Chef, Todd Knoll.  After examining the many finds in the sitting room, we headed through a secret door (seriously!) into the wine cellar to taste the vino.  Jordan makes only a Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon each year, preferring the perfect the fruit and resulting wines continuously each year, rather than branch out with a number of different wines.  We tasted the latest releases, the ’08 Russian River Valley Chardonnay and the ’06 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  In addition, we were able to try a back vintage just now coming into its own, the ’03 Alexander Valley Cab.

All of the wines displayed a very distinct house style of elegance, balance and restrained power.  These were not huge California wines, but had more of an Old World beauty to them, yet still contained ample fruit to counter the fine tannin and juicy acidity and minerality that I tasted.  The ’08 Chardonnay was particularly good, forcing me to slap a AwesomeWK badge on it and proclaim amazing.  It was filled with great citrus fruit and acidity, slight cream and a very cool salty finish; I loved this wine.  To my relief and excitement, these wines are also very reasonably priced for their quality: $29 for the Chard and $52 for the Cab, upon release.

The rest of the evening and night was filled with relaxation, good wine courtesy of our new friends from Chicago in the Jordan guest house and an outstanding meal in downtown Healdsburg at Barndiva (recommended by Jordan security wiz, Rob).  The locavore menu there features a number of tasty and innovative dishes alongside some outstanding service.  They’re wine list is very reasonable with pricing and featured quite a few tasty selections that I wish I’d had more time to explore.  We enjoyed a very interesting sparkler from German house Solter (called a Sekt) and a not so memorable bottle of bubbly from Iron Horse Vineyard. Check out a video of our delicious peacefulness that evening, below!


A very big thank you must go out to Lisa, Claire, Rob, Todd and all of the wonderful staff at Jordan.  Their hospitality was very generous and the tour was one of the best and most educational experiences that I’ve yet had a winery.  All of the pictures and videos from our visit are found on my Flickr.  The wines from that weekend have been tagged with “JordanEstate2010” so that you can list them in your own WineLog.  Some of these wines even grabbed a vaunted WKBadge.  Cheers!

Jordan Vineyard & Winery:

#WKBadges - AwesomeWKJordan Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2008

Color: Medium gold, very clear

Nose: Great lemon zest, with an underlay of slightest brioche, slight salt and a more minor citrus to add complexity.

Palate: Zesty and yet very silky mouthfeel. A wonderful lasting finish, with some great minerality and more of that light salt. Extremely good.

#WKBadges - OldWorldWKJordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2003

Color: medium garnet, garnet edges

Nose: Juicy black cherry, fresh anise, cardamon, earth, wet, savory herbs. Wonderful complexity, along with slight new leather on the rim.

Palate: Medium full, with wonderful power-silk tannins, great acidity. Black and Bing cherry, alongside darkest chocolate. Anise here but more dried, raspberry and chocolate, dried blackberry, good long and smooth finish.

Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006


#WKBadges - QPRWKSolter Rheingeau Spätburgunder Sekt Brut Rosé NV

Color: Golden, with a very fine bead and robust mousse

Nose: Very raisined, with some slight brighter citrus trying to poke through, but the fruit tastes like it was picked way too late.

Palate: Very overripe, with middling acidity and dried lemon and white raisins.  Unsure if this was actually a bad bottle, just tastes like very overripe fruit.

Iron Horse Green Valley Estate Bottled Wedding Cuvee 2004

Affordable Bordeaux in 2010: FTW!

Le Wine Buff - Enjoy BordeauxI don’t think it’s any surprise to you fine readers that I’m a big fan of Bordeaux and even work for the Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB) as one of Le Wine Buff, video broadcasting each week from my vino-abode.  Well the kids at Enjoy Bordeaux (Twitter) have hatched an incredibly rad new plan to create some fun on the interwebs, with oh, maybe a prize that might require a flight or two, woot!  I don’t want to spill alll the deets, but suffice it to say: it will be fun, it will be a contest on their Facebook page launching 11/15/10 (where you currently can see the awesome documentary short of our BDX trip in June), the prize is flippin’ awesome and you can get some of the gist by checking out my personal addition to the shizzy after the jump.  You’ll even find some wines taking home a WKBadge for their efforts. Cheers!

Bottles Away! - EnjoyBordeaux.com11/16/10 UPDATE: The Enjoy BordeauxBottles Away!” contest has finally launched on their Facebook Page.  Play hard and pick well and you could wine an awesome new wine fridge!

You’ve been hearing all the chatter: Bordeaux futures this year have been off the hook in quality, but also come with record massive prices. Can your fine self still find affordable wine from one of the most iconic and slammin’ wine regions in the world? Heck yeah and I’m hear to show to you how we do!

Enjoy Bordeaux#WKBadges - QPRWK2008 Mouton Cadet Bordeaux Supérieur Blanc – $10

A zesty, citrusy white that kicks some serious QPR booty. Get some and get a lot.

2008 Les Vignerons de Tutiac Quintet Bordeaux Supérieur – $9

Crisp citrus flavors surround a very intriguing mineral core. Clean and exciting, like a nice slab of techno.

2006 Château de Bel-Air Lalande-de-Pomerol – $19

Let’s take a stroll on the right side of Bordeaux and agree to just enjoy the silky palate of toasty black cherry and both shut the heck up!

#WKBadges - QPRWK2005 Château Greysac Médoc – $11

All black fruit all the time from this savory wine that slides in from another expensive vintage…yet it still brings the value heat.

#WKBadges - OldWorldWK2005 Château Teyssier Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – $28

It’s unreal to find a Grand Cru St-E at this price, but I do what I must to please my fellow vinopanions. The complexity here is off. the. chain. Earth, black fruit, savory herbs and perfect balance, YES!

#WKBadges - QPRWK2007 Château Haut Mayne Sauternes – $19

It’s shocking sometimes, the value you find in sweet wines from Bordeaux. Here the sinuous mouthfeel combines with just-right sweetness for a delicious stickie to finish us off.

6 bottles, 5 AOC, Total Cost: $96 = BLEDOW!

All of these wines are tagged with “BottlesAway2010LeWineBuff” if you’d like to list them in your own WineLog.  Cheers!

The Wine Buff gang conquering Bordeaux (2) - Enjoy Bordeaux (Flickr)
The Wine Buff gang conquering Bordeaux (2) - Enjoy Bordeaux (Flickr)

As Le Wine Buff for, I am paid a nominal fee for most of my participation.  I also receive free wine samples and my participation on this trip is courtesy of the CIVB.

5 Questions with David Cole of James David Cellars

James David CellarsSo a mad apology is needed from myself to my tireless vinopanion known as David Cole, AKA @ColeDavid.  I first started this interview NYE of this (last?) year and it is now finally seeing the light of the interwebs.  Thank you for your patience David, here it is in the pixels!  Actually, this interview coincides quite nicely with some exciting news from David’s joint family winery, James David Cellars (Twitter).  They are launching a new website, have just put out some new wines and are of course, currently tackling the very challenging 2010 harvest from their home base in Paso Robles.  Following the interview, I’ve listed all of the tasty wines from David’s wine labels mentioned below that I’ve had the fortune to taste over the years.  Onward!

1. Ward (Twitter)/VinopanionWineLog (Twitter): You’ve had an interesting history in wine already in your life, what with the great wines you turned out with Redline Wines (the ’04 Blue Oaks Syrah is one of the best I’ve ever had and the best from Paso & garenered an AwesomeWK #WKBadge!) and now James David Cellars. How did you get your start in wine?

David Cole (Twitter)/James David Cellars (Twitter): My Uncle and Aunt Purchased a Vineyard in Paso Robles in the early 90’s. I was already interested in wine as my Father was a collector and enthusiast of wine as I grew up. I also owned a Limousine business in the Sacramento Area in the early 90’s and took many trips to Napa & Sonoma. So I dreamed of owning a vineyard and winery, but the capitol out lay was more than I could do. As I learned more about the business, I realized I could start my brand without the winery and vineyard. So my plan is to grow into that later. I purchase grapes from my family and make my wine at a custom crush facility PRWS in Paso Robles, CA.

2. Ward (Twitter)/VinopanionWineLog (Twitter): Your Muscat is a wonderfully dry expression of that varietal, but definitely a unique and exciting choice for the first release from a new winery. What’s the story behind this wine?

David Cole (Twitter)/James David Cellars (Twitter): When I started to develop my business plan part of my strategy was to buy grapes from family. I also felt I needed to have a white wine and we grow Muscat really well on Penman Springs Vineyard. Knowing that I didn’t really want a desert wine at this point in my business. My Uncle Carl and his winemaker Larry were already talking about doing and Alsatian style wine for his brand. I loved the idea as I really like some of those dry Riesling and Gewürztraminer wines from Alsace area.

Not a lot of people have done this wine in the US, so I was excited to do it.

3. Ward (Twitter)/VinopanionWineLog (Twitter): Social media has hit big in the wine biz over the last three years, such as with the first three Wine Bloggers’ Conferences in the US and EU. You are clearly dialed in to this movement, actively involved with your Twitter, Facebook, [former] WineQ sales and many other wine social media outlets. Have you seen clear returns from all of this activity and would you recommend using social media to other boutique wineries?

David Cole (Twitter)/James David Cellars (Twitter): I have seen some return as far as direct sales. I have also been able to get dealers to take my wine because of my activity within social media. I think besides sales it allows Customers service, visibility and a way to communicate with the general public. If also allows you to see and hear about trends or desires from wine drinkers. So I would clearly recommend it to others.

4. Ward (Twitter)/VinopanionWineLog (Twitter): Since it’s it was close to turn of the New Year and last (or first) year of the decade, let’s have some fun. Five years from now, where do you see the wine biz as a whole? Do you see better or worse access to wines across the nation, social media playing a larger/smaller role, new varietals making a new prominence, etc?

David Cole (Twitter)/James David Cellars (Twitter): Great question! Let’s come back and see how close I was…

I think people that make good to great wine will rise to the top, I know this seems simple but there are a lot of bad wines on the market. I am surprised at some of the releases to be quite frank. With that said peoples palates are getting better, their expectations are better and from a wineries view we know we have make great wines at a better value. Will people still buy $100 California Cabernet, sure there will always be that group of folks.

I also think that our biggest issue in the Government as far as regulation of wines, shipping across state lines and general access by the public. I am of the belief that the people need to speak up! We need to open up states and allow these wines to be shipped and it will only be done when the people have their voices heard.

As far as varietals, I really think Petite Sirah will get popular within 5 years as well as proprietary blends like the Prisoner, Optimus, Saxum etc. One thing I am hopeful about is people wanting to cellar and store wines for longer periods of time. This simple pleasure of collecting and sharing with friends and family is just an awesome experience that I hope catches on.

5. Ward (Twitter)/VinopanionWineLog (Twitter): Where do you see James David Cellars going in 2010 and beyond? Do you have any new releases or labels/lines planned for this year?

David Cole (Twitter)/James David Cellars (Twitter): This year I will release a 2008 Pinot Noir from Monterey, 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from Penman Springs Vineyard our families vineyard in Paso Robles, 2008 Dry Muscat Blanc but with a proprietary name, and another red blend with proprietary name. I’m looking forward to 2010!

Wines I’ve tasted from David Cole:

James David Cellars:

James David Cellars Paso Robles Penman Springs Vineyard Muscat Blanc 2007

Redline Wines:

Redline Mendocino Eaglepoint Ranch Syrah 2004

Redline Arroyo Seco Cedar Lane Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005

#WKBadges - AwesomeWKRedline Paso Robles Blue Oaks Vineyard Syrah 2004

Clos LaChance, the PGA & Original Wine Open - PGA TourYes, yes, yes…I *know*!  It’s been some time since my last post.  Well, that’s just what going on vacay for 2+ weeks to Carmel Valley, Spain and Portugal will do to you.  Actually, I take that back.  It’s what going back to work AFTER that vacay, that will get ya!  Anyhow, I’m back and ready to reengage my fellow vinopanions and boy do I have two cool pieces of vino news to disseminate!

Clos LaChanceFirst up, one of the coolest pieces of wine news that I’ve come across in some time, Clos LaChance (Twitter) is the very first winery to be sitting directly on the course of a PGA Tour (Twitter) event.  They are also one of the Open‘s main sponsors and have the lucky vantage point overlooking the 15th hole at CordeValle.  This should prove to be a very exciting event and I’m quite interested in seeing how Clos LaChance and the PGA Tour integrate their activities during the week. The golfing should be spectacular, featuring a field that includes David Duval, Justin Leonard, John Daly and Rickie Fowler.  The Murphy family has been making wine in San Martin, CA since 1992, utilizing many members of their family to produce their unique wines.  I’m also fired up to finally get a chance to try some wine from this buzz winery!  Tickets are still available online, so purchase yours today and come and hang with us!

Center for Wine OriginsOne a completely different note, I’m very humbled to have been picked for the “Spotlight on Bloggers” section of the very cool Center of Wine Origins (Twitter) website.  The hard-working folks at the CFWO have reprinted an article I wrote here awhile back about how much I enjoy sharing wine with my friends (Vinopanion = wine + companion).

The CFWO has taken on the very important job of clarifying and protecting the names of wine regions around the world, through collaboration with similar organizations in the wine countries of the rest of the globe.  This means that they work to ensure that wine labeled “Champagne” is only sparkling wine that comes from Champagne, France.  Or perhaps they lay the smackdown on anyone that uses the name “Napa” on wine that doesn’t come from Napa County, CA.  It seems like a simple enough concept, but it can be quite difficult to define these names and regions globally, and it can be even harder to enforce the exclusivity of these wine naming conventions.  Fortunately, the CFWO has some very competent people to regulate and collaborate!

So come out to CordeValle and Clos LaChance this weekend if you’re in the area and sift through the great content on the CFWO website.  Cheers!

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