Aging for Balance
A profound respect for the use of oak barrels in aging wine helps define the style, balance, and complexity of Jordan Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
It is here, in barrel, that the blended wine components harmonize, the bitter and astringent tannins become silky, and the oak contributes an elegant softness to the developing wine. Our commitment to aging wines with approachability and ageability requires great care in selecting not only our barrels, but our corks, bottles and determining how long to hold the wines before release.
At Jordan, the selection of oak barrels and barrel cooperages is as essential to our elegant style as the precision farming of our grapevines. While many wineries choose their barrels prior to harvest, Jordan’s winemaking team selects barrels for each vintage only after those wines have completed primary fermentation. Every vintage, a portion of the Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon is aged in a selection of barrels at various toast levels from a multitude of coopers. Two vintages of these experimental wines are then blind tasted by our winemaking team to determine which types of barrels are harmoniously suited for best expressing the varietal fruit character and tannin structure of the new vintage.
All winemaking decisions at Jordan, even the selection of barrels to be employed, are made by taste. If noted barrel producers change in quality or fundamental style, they may be removed from or added to the Jordan wine-aging program depending on what those changes contribute to the wine. Jordan aims for higher quality in all that we do every year, and we expect the same from our suppliers. The result is an artful mix of ultra-premium oak styles and toast nuances that contribute to the structure and balance of Jordan Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
More than a dozen coopers, offering the finest barrels with various toasting and tightness of oak grain, contribute to the slow-aging of our two wines. The blend of oaks changes year to year and no strict formulas are employed, but a sharp focus is placed on using a judicious amount of new oak, typically no more than one-third, to retain the wine’s natural elegance and balance.
French oak, harvested from France’s famed Vosges and Tronçias forests, is used exclusively for Jordan Chardonnay. A combination of French and American oak is combined in the crafting of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon. Ironically, these elite barrels, which command some of the highest prices in the industry, often provide the “least bang for the buck” in oak flavors. Paying a premium price for subtle oak nuances is expressly our intention at Jordan, where our winemaker strives to achieve a consistent, pitch-perfect balance between fruit, tannin and acidity in our wines every vintage.
To ensure that the aging process continues as gracefully in bottle as it did in our barrels, it is important that the bottle closure is carefully selected. The same meticulous care that is taken in our vineyards and winery in Sonoma County extends to Europe when it comes to selecting natural cork closures for every bottle of Jordan. Fifty percent of the world’s cork supply comes from Portugal, with several different grades of quality available to wineries. Jordan only purchases the top three percent of wine corks—the highest quality grade available worldwide.
These types of corks—with their tighter, less porous grain and long shape—come from the oldest trees in southern Portugal’s ancient cork forests and undergo rigorous testing and sorting at the cork manufacturers in northern Portugal. Corks are re-sorted once they arrive in California to remove any additional corks that don’t meet our quality standards—those closures that may have missed scrutiny during the first selection process. Rigorous quality testing continues in our laboratory, ensuring Jordan uses only the best of the best corks for protecting our wines—so rigorous that typically only 20 percent of the original three percent of corks that have made it to this point actually earn their way into a Jordan bottle.
Over the years, small experiments have been conducted with other types of closures, but our winemaker deems high quality natural cork to be the ideal method to allow our wines to breathe and evolve. The harvesting of cork trees, which entails removing only the bark, is a sustainable farming practice steeped in family tradition. The bark is hand-harvested and is allowed to regrow untouched for nine years before harvested again, allowing these towering trees to live for centuries. Corks are a natural product we are honored to support.
Each bottle of Jordan is individually labeled and traceable to the specific forest where its cork was grown and harvested. In the rare case that a faulty cork leads to any off characters in a bottle of Jordan Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon, this tracking system enables us to accurately identify the source of the fault and make any necessary corrections.
Maturing in Bottle
After each vintage is bottled, our commitment to the silky, approach style of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon continues in our wine cellar, as vintages are held in our temperature- and humidity-controlled environment for two years before release. While this is a longer holding period than most prestigious California wineries, we believe it is an appropriate amount of time to allow our young red wine to truly acclimate to the bottle. This extra time in our cellar ensures that the wine will be ready to drink on the release date or prepared for additional aging in private cellars.
Any wine worthy of aging requires balanced components of acidity, tannin structure and fruit expression. To quote André Tchelistcheff, the consulting enologist who delivered on Jordan’s original vision and inspiration to produce a more European-style wine, “Only wines of balance age.” Balanced wines capable of cellaring, like the Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, are stunning in their youth as well for exactly the same reason. With balance comes harmony and with harmony comes elegance and finesse—regardless of age.
A well-crafted wine does not become a different wine with age; it simply matures for the better. Its personality evolves in a way that leads to increased aromatic complexity and texture. The decision of when to open a Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon depends on personal taste preferences, though Jordan wines are crafted for graceful evolution in bottle and enjoyment of myriad aromas and flavors both young and mature wines achieve. Our tasting notes and When To Drink recommendations are also available to help guide your decision.