May 8, 2017 | by Lisa Mattson
Jordan Vineyard & Winery is excited to announce the official launch of our first Jordan Cuvée, 100 percent produced by Champagne AR Lenoble, owned and operated by the Malassagne family in the Champagne region of France. The Jordan Cuvée by Champagne AR Lenoble is a special bottling of non-vintage brut that celebrates the shared business values and common winemaking philosophies of both families.
With a history in sparkling wine dating back three decades, Jordan was the birthplace of J by Jordan sparkling wine, which was established by winery founder Tom Jordan and his daughter, Judy, in 1987. Until 1993, J sparkling was produced at Jordan Winery in Alexander Valley, a relationship that exposed Rob Davis, Jordan’s winemaker since 1976, to chardonnay’s much greater Burgundian likeness when grown in the Russian River Valley appellation. After moving J by Jordan sparkling to a permanent facility in Russian River Valley, Judy took over full ownership and grew J Vineyards & Winery into a successful producer of not only sparkling but also still wines. Jordan and J operated independently for almost two decades, but Jordan continued to serve J sparkling at winery receptions and winemaker dinners until a few years ago. Judy sold J Vineyards & Winery in 2015.
“Sparkling wine is a tradition we just couldn’t let go of,” said John Jordan, second-generation vintner and proprietor of Jordan Vineyard & Winery. “The inspiration for Jordan was the elegant wines and gracious hospitality of France, and when we found a family in Champagne that shares similar philosophies, not just in winemaking but in running a small business, we knew what we needed to do and where we needed to go.”
The AR Lenoble-Jordan partnership started with an introduction by a mutual acquaintance. During a vacation in February 2016, Davis visited his long-time friend, Tim Johnston, the founder of Juveniles Wine Bar in Paris, and told him about Jordan’s dream of finding a family in Champagne with which to collaborate on a special cuvée. Johnston, who interned at Jordan in 1980, said he knew just the person to call. Davis took a train to Champagne the next day and immediately felt a bond with the Malassagnes, learning of common values and philosophies, from independent ownership and focus on intensity of fruit and balance in the wines to extended bottle aging, adaptive farming practices and using reserve-quality wine in flagship bottlings. This is the first time AR Lenoble has ever produced a bottling for another company during its nearly 100 years in the wine business. The partnership is purely based on values—no financial investments or plans to make wines or buy vineyards together.
“We believe small, independent businesses like ours are stronger if we stick together in an increasingly globalized world,” said Antoine Malassagne, winemaker and co-proprietor of AR Lenoble. “An ocean might separate us, but both Jordan and AR Lenoble are united by our commitment to independence and to our customers. Neither one of us answers to anybody but ourselves, which is important in today’s wine business, whether you’re creating brilliant expressions of chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon in Sonoma County like John Jordan or making wines of character from Champagne like Anne and me.”
One of the very rare producers in Champagne that has been consistently family owned throughout its entire history, AR Lenoble was established in 1920 by Armand-Raphael Graser, who had moved from Alsace to the village of Damery in Champagne during World War I. Today, AR Lenoble is owned and operated by siblings Anne and Antoine Malassagne, the great grandchildren of Graser. The family owns 18 hectares in some of the best parts of Champagne, including 10 hectares of chardonnay in the grand cru village of Chouilly on the Côte des Blancs and six hectares of pinot noir in the premier cru village of Bisseuil between Mareuil-sur-Ay and Tours-sur-Marne.
The Jordan Cuvée by Champagne AR Lenoble will make its official debut to the public at the Belle Époque Spring at Jordan on May 13, a themed event celebrating Jordan’s new releases, including the first-ever Jordan Chef’s Reserve Caviar by Tsar Nicoulai. (Tickets are available online for $95 per person.) The Jordan Cuvée will also be served at select wine dinners, all Jordan Winery culinary events and many Jordan Estate Rewards member experiences, including the new Champagne & Caviar Tasting. Due to limited availability, the Jordan Cuvée will not be served on daily Tours & Tastings at Jordan. For more information, the Champagne section on our website.
The Jordan Cuvée by Champagne AR Lenoble is comprised of 30% grand cru chardonnay from Chouilly, 35% premier cru pinot noir from Bisseuil and 35% pinot meunier from Damery, with reserve wines comprising 35 percent of the blend. This Champagne spent four years aging on the lees before debut, and its base wine vintage is 2012. The packaging includes both wineries’ brands on the front label and capsule—a non-traditional approach to a private label—and also describes the partnership on the back label. Uncommon in Champagne packaging, a cabouchon with the Jordan wordmark, which was assembled and attached by hand by the Malassagne family and their staff, graces each muselet. The Jordan Cuvée is a special selection of the house’s non-vintage brut produced in its cellars with grapes from AR Lenoble’s vineyards and long-term growers.
The Jordan Cuvée retails for $49 and will only be sold direct to guests who visit the winery in Healdsburg, beginning May 13. Online purchasing is not available at this time. Only 500 nine-liter cases were imported.