January 31, 2018 | by Lisa Mattson

Jordan Vineyard & Winery has received its first Good Food Award for the Jordan Chef’s Reserve Caviar by Tsar Nicoulai. It was the only caviar bestowed the honor by Alice Waters, Nell Newman and Madhur Jaffrey as part of the 2018 Good Food Awards ceremony on January 19.

Hosted at the War Memorial’s Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, the Good Food Awards brought together 900 of the nation’s leading food producers, grocers, chefs, journalists and activists to recognize the 199 Good Food Award winners of 2018—American food and drink crafters who demonstrate a commitment to creating delicious, authentic and responsible products. According to the Good Food Awards, the 2018 winners are not only commended for their creativity but also for their sustainable production methods, which showcase the highest social and environmental standards. These producers protect the land, continue to push the bounds of their craft, and respect their peers, all the while redefining the breadth of the American table.

Hand-crafted in collaboration with Jordan Executive Chef Todd Knoll, the Jordan Chef’s Reserve Caviar debuted in 2017. It is a small-batch caviar that combines Tsar Nicoulai’s sustainable methods of high-quality farming in Northern California with Chef Knoll’s affinity for the Sonoma Coast, captured through a homemade cure. To create this caviar, Knoll harvested salt water and kombu (a mineral-rich type of kelp) from the Sonoma Coast, dehydrated the kombu and then let it infuse with a chilled bath of the collected salt water for three days before kombu was removed and final evaporation occurred, making the caviar’s essential cure. Tsar Nicoulai sustainably harvested the roe from 100 percent California white sturgeon raised at the company’s farm in Sacramento County before the chef applied the infused sea salt for an eight-week cure. The Jordan Chef’s Reserve Caviar by Tsar Nicoulai is sold exclusively at www.jordanwinery.com/shop for $135 per ounce, including overnight shipping.

20018 good food awards ceremony, herbst theater san francisco
Lisa Mattson of Jordan Winery and Otto Szilagyi of Tsar Nicoulai after the awards ceremony.

The foundation for this partnership, apart from a long friendship between Tsar Nicoulai and Jordan, was the careful selection of a specific caviar for the chef’s cure. Tsar Nicoulai produces 15 varieties of the cured sturgeon roe, and the reserve-level caviar was chosen for its supple pairing with the new Jordan Cuvée by Champagne AR Lenoble and Jordan Chardonnay. Reserve-grade caviar originates from Tsar Nicoulai’s finest California white sturgeon with genetic strains dating back 20 years. Fish must be a minimum of eight years old and meet the company’s standards of grain size and bead quality, attributes which come not only from genetic lineage kept exclusively at its farm in Wilton, Calif., but also from the low density of the ponds and thus low stress levels of fish. As with all Tsar Nicoulai products, this caviar was carefully produced and selected without the use of antibiotics, growth hormones, GMOs or synthetic preservatives, creating a caviar of the highest quality and integrity for enjoyment.

2018 Good Food Awards ceremony
Alice Waters and Madhur Jaffrey (right) watch the opening remarks by Sam Mogannam of Bi-Rite Market.

The Good Food Awards recognized food and beverage products in 15 categories (beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, cider, coffee, confections, elixirs, fish, honey, oils, pantry, pickles, preserves and spirits). The 2018 winners hailed from 34 states and D.C.—each selected from 2,057 entries in a blind tasting with 277 judges, which was held in September. The highest scoring entries were submitted to a rigorous vetting process to verify they met the sustainability and social responsibility criteria to win a Good Food Award. Of the 199 winners selected from 280 finalists, 113 companies (57 percent) are first-time winners.

Jordan Chef’s Reserve Caviar is incorporated into winery dinners, other culinary events and seasonal food pairings on Tours & Tastings at Jordan Winery. Jordan also offers a private Champagne & Caviar Tasting for members.