Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 16, 2021 - 17

WINE
We quickly filled our fermentation room with freshly
pressed grapes, and I breathed a sigh of relief knowing
that both the 2020 Jordan Chardonnay and 2020 Jordan
Cabernet Sauvignon were going to be beautiful wines.
PICTURED AT LEFT
Night-harvesting Russian River
Valley chardonnay grapes to
preserve bright acids and aromas;
Alexander Valley cabernet
sauvignon grapes await harvest.
of training under Rob Davis prepared me for that moment. I kept
hearing him say, " The greatest tool we have is our palate. Always
trust your palate first. " As we sampled the chardonnay grapes in
each block, I could taste the freshness, acidity and fruit in the juice.
Being extra cautious, we also performed small " micro-ferments "
in five-gallon buckets with grapes from each block. (Smoke aroma
is easiest to detect after three days of fermentation.) Not a trace of
smoke was found. While many other wineries were waiting on test
results, we harvested half of our chardonnay vintage in just a few
days. Only one small grower vineyard had to be rejected. It was
brand new to our program, so I don't know if it would have passed
the Jordan taste test in a typical year. Losing only one vineyard that
we weren't counting on made me feel extremely lucky.
CABERNET OVERCOMES THE ELEMENTS
The next hurdle of the 2020 harvest was an intense Labor Day
weekend heatwave, when temperatures in Alexander Valley reached
114 degrees. Our incredible group of grape growers nourished
the vines with extra irrigation to keep them thriving. Once the
grapevines recovered from the heatwave, we began sampling red
grapes to determine pick dates. Remaining abundantly cautious,
we completed " micro-ferments " on all of the Jordan Cabernet
Sauvignon vineyards as well, even though they were located far east
of the fire. After evaluating the juice for smoke taint-which was not
present-I was able to focus my sensory analysis on the incredible,
rich, dark fruit aromas and flavors the grapevines were producing
in 2020. The resilience of these wonderful plants left me speechless.
We quickly filled our fermentation room with the freshly pressed
grapes, and I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that both the 2020
Jordan Chardonnay and 2020 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon are
going to be beautiful wines.
NAIL-BITING END TO HARVEST
Just as Jordan's red grape harvest was nearing the finish line, the
Glass Fire broke out on September 27 in neighboring Napa Valley.
Though a large mountain range and many miles separate us,
smoke was drifting toward Alexander Valley. Our hearts broke for
the iconic wineries and resorts that were lost or damaged in Napa
Valley, but we had to keep our composure and focus on protecting
the 20 percent of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon that was still on the
vine. Our amazing cellar crew worked tirelessly to move the wines
to our Oak Tank Room as soon as fermentations were complete;
stainless steel tanks stayed open for maybe 10 seconds before
we started filling them up again. The one vineyard in southern
Alexander Valley that was most at risk was harvested a few days
early, and the gondolas were rushed to our vineyard shop to be
stored indoors overnight before its morning crush. It wasn't until
the last grapes were pressed off their skins weeks later that I felt able
to relax. Jordan made it through 2020 without smoke taint. I am
so proud of our team and growers for working hard to overcome
such a litany of challenges.
Looking back, I hope that 2020 is the only harvest where I have
to wake up and make the conscious decision of whether to wear
a N-95 mask or a face covering. T
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Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 16, 2021

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