Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 14, 2019 - 19

Clockwise from top right: Winemaker Rob Davis at the Tronçais forest
in Bordeaux in 2010; the Jordan barrel room racks; the 2015 Jordan
Cabernet Sauvignon on a prized Nadalié Colbert barrel.
Davis pointed out that even though he relied on American
oak in the early years, over time, the ratio for Jordan Cabernet
Sauvignon aging became 60-40 in favor of French (2011);
86 percent tonnellerie française in 2013 and 94 percent French
in 2014 before the move to 100 percent French in 2015.
" As our fruit intensity increased, we relied on more French
oak, " Davis explained. " We needed more of the silky French
oak tannins to merge with the ripe tannins in the grapes. André
always told me to look at soil for great grapes. For him it was
site, site, site. Terroir is number one. He also taught me to look
at the fruit profile versus the tannin profile. They need to be
in balance with each other. Balanced wines age better, and
uniformity breeds balance. "
Vincent Nadalié, president and director of sales for the
cooperage firm Nadalié USA, based in Calistoga, has had a long
relationship with Jordan, working with Davis to match barrels
to cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay for years. Nadalié has
seen Jordan's cabernet program evolve to the point where 100
percent French oak is the best match for the fruit.
" Because the grapes Jordan [now] gets are so refined in aromas,
flavors and velvety tannins, in order to give a maximum exposure
to that fruit, Jordan went to the finesse of the tight-grain Colbert
barrel. The Colbert elevates that fruit, showcases the aromatic
flavors like rose petal and violet, rounds the wine with elegant
tannins, and gives a nice fresh, bright finish. "
Colbert refers to the Tronçais and Limousin forests that were
planted by Jean-Baptiste Colbert, minister of Louis XIV, in the
late 1600s. They remain a gold standard.
" American oak is well-appreciated for cabernet sauvignon
grapes, but brings roughness and lactone to the wine, " Nadalié
continued. " The 100 percent French oak adds finesse and
brightness to the wine, and those are the main characters
of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon. "
The Tronçais forest in central France is a favorite barrel source
of the Jordan winemaking team, based on blind tastings of
Jordan wines aged in barrels from several forests. Tightness
of grain, age of the trees, length of the seasoning period, levels
of toasting during barrel production, and whether the oak barrel
is being used for the first, second or third time, are all factors in
Jordan barrel selection.
" American oak did its job through the years, adding its
characteristic aroma and flavor support to the grapes, " Davis
said. " Now, our fruit has the tannin structure to mature in all
French oak barrels. If we'd continued with our old barrel regime,
our cabernet would taste less refined and out of balance. "
Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon will always be based on elegance,
finesse and moderate alcohol levels. The move to 100 percent
French oak barrel aging is yet one more step in the winery's
efforts to remain at the top of the class amongst California's
First Growths.
Linda Murphy writes about wine for Sonoma and Decanter magazines, The Press Democrat newspaper, and is the author, with Jancis
Robinson, of " American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wine Producers of the USA. " Learn more at lindamurphywine.com.
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Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 14, 2019

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