Alexander Valley's Grand Cru

Jordan Vineyards and Winery has been producing fine Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in the Alexander Valley for over 40 years. Proud of its role in helping to establish the reputation of Sonoma County wine, the winery also sees itself as carrying on winemaking traditions that have been practiced in France for centuries.

In the early 1970s, Tom Jordan dreamed of creating an American equivalent of a French Grand Cru. On orchard land in the Alexander Valley, he planted vineyards and built a chateau-inspired winery and tasting room. He hired a young winemaker named Rob Davis and enlisted the famed enologist Andre Tchelistscheff to consult on winemaking. Production focused exclusively on estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.  While not an uncommon story these days, such ambition was rare in the 1970s, when Sonoma County grapes were used more in jug wines than by premium wineries. However, almost overnight Jordan set a new standard for Sonoma wine. Inspired by the wines of St. Julien in Bordeaux and Meursault in Burgundy, Jordan pursued “new” (for California) practices such as including the classic Bordeaux varietals of Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec with the Cabernet. In the winery, Jordan followed an empirical approach toward barrel aging, continually testing new sources of oak, and aged the wines in bottle before release. With such attention to detail, the estate Cabs earned a reputation for complexity of aroma and bouquet and full-bodied elegance, for their balance between fruit, silky tannins and a lingering finish. Both the Cabernets and Chardonnays have always enjoyed high demand and have been perennial favorites of restaurants. 

Today the reputation of Jordan wines continues to grow as the winery improves upon its experience of the past 40 years. The current CEO, John Jordan, Tom’s son, has begun to incorporate some of the newer trends in vineyard management and winemaking. Much of the estate has been replanted, with the Cabernet vineyards relocated from the valley floor to the rolling hills and benchlands that offer better drainage and more varied soils. The new plantings also include greater clonal variation. Even so, Jordan no longer relies entirely on the estate vineyards but also purchases grapes from trusted growers to give the winemaker the best quality and broadest palate of flavors to draw on. Indeed, the Chardonnay is now sourced entirely from the Russian River Valley, which is much cooler and more advantageous for that grape. On the other hand, Jordan has remained opposed to one particular trend; that is, the trend toward higher levels of alcohol and heavier, more syrupy wines. After almost 40 years of making Jordan wines, Rob Davis continues to believe the mission is to achieve balance between fruit, acidity, tannin, and alcohol in order to ensure the wines have finesse, elegance and, importantly, continuity from vintage to vintage.

Wine Maker

Maggie Kruse





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Wines from this Winery

2017 Jordan Russian River Valley Chardonnay

The character of Jordan’s Chardonnay – green apple, lemon citrus, flinty minerality, firm acidity, a trace of oak – might suggest Chablis much more than California. And like its French analogue, it delivers as a superb accompaniment to fine dining. The fruit is 100% sourced from six small growers in the Russian River Valley, a region known for cooler temperatures and diverse soils that favor Chardonnay. Fluctuating temperatures in 2017 required the winery to work with about a third less fruit than usual; however, meticulous vineyard practices and careful selection brought in fruit with intense flavors and vibrant acidity. Rob Davis’s balancing of such variables as barrel fermentation, amount of new oak, and sur lie aging resulted in a wine with surprising freshness, flavor and texture. Cutting back on French oak in both fermentation and aging allows the oak to support (rather than overpower) the flavors, while limiting malolactic fermentation enhances the purity of the Russian River Valley fruit. The lively fruit and excellent structure make this a singular choice to pair with oysters, fresh cracked crab, saffron-spiced fish stew, roast chicken and poached salmon.

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2015 Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

The Alexander Valley gets much more sun than other parts of Sonoma County, making it an excellent region for later-ripening Bordeaux varieties. On the other hand, the Alexander Valley is cooler than the Napa Valley. Alexander Valley Cabs are noted for a bit more structure, less opulence, more acidity and less ripeness than their Napa Valley cousins – and that’s exactly how we might characterize the Bordeaux-influenced and food-friendly Jordan Cabernets. 2015, the last year of a long California dry spell, saw lower yields but an overall excellent vintage. For Jordan Winery, 2015 is the year they completed a multi-year project to revitalize vineyard sourcing and barrel aging. The Cabernet is now sourced only from bench land and hillside vineyards, a total of 60 blocks owned by the estate and 13 family growers. In the winery, the wine was matured in 100% French oak for the first time. Winemaker Rob Davis said, “The 2015 Jordan exudes a great fruit character and fine structure that French oak supports and elevates. I’ve been dreaming of releasing a wine like this for decades because French barrels, when coupled with our terroir-driven fruit, sing like the number one violin. This Cabernet hits all the right notes.” 

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