Wines of the Week: Jordan 2009 and 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
Tasting Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon along with a food pairing always turns up a nice surprise, and even nicer when it’s a harvest lunch prepared by Jordan Vineyard & Winery’s chef and culinary staff.
This past September, I had the opportunity to taste Jordan’s library 2009 vintage and current 2013 release at lunch, a side-by-side Cabernet comparison I was able to repeat at home the other night — albeit without the same great food!
Many Sonoma County wineries carry on the tradition of gathering for lunch every day during the busy harvest season. Jordan’s harvest lunches, scheduled throughout three weeks in the fall of 2017, are likely among the more sumptuous of these feasts. The lunches are open to select visitors from the media, the wine trade, and Jordan rewards club members. We visitors enjoyed a splash of Jordan’s new Champagne to start the meal. At another long table, winery employees and an international team of interns enjoyed the same great lunch, sans alcoholic beverages — they’re not that Old World at Jordan!
This day it was a burger bar, but you can bet it was a Kobe beef burger. I’m told that one year, on the first and last days of harvest lunch, the staff gathered on the truck scale that is used to weigh grape, for a before and after weight comparison. Seems there was no clamor to repeat the experiment.
But back to those Cabernets: As Jordan’s longtime winemaker Rob Davis notes, “2013 is the richest, most complex Jordan I’ve tasted upon release.”
At the harvest lunch and again at home, I found the Jordan 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon ($55) more youthful fruit-wise, with juicy blueberry on the palate — as in, fresh, crunchy but also slightly vegetal blueberries, not blueberry syrup — and dusted with oak and unsweetened cocoa powder, with a suggestion of maple-smoked bacon around its aromatic edges.
In contrast, the Jordan 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon ($53), although described to me when I tasted at the winery back in 2013 as a more forward, less traditional Jordan style of Cab, offers a handful of dried red and black fruits, as if plucked from dusty trail mix, to spice up an aroma of well-worn old leather. It seems tighter and drier on the finish that the 2013, until tasted with food — in this case with, of all things, an adzuki bean chili that I’d just cooked up the other day. Now, the sweet plum fruit emerges, the leathery note dances with the smoky Southwestern style chili powder, and the palate is all suppleness. A rewarding transformation.
Once again, I’m reminded that Davis knows what he’s doing when he blends this wine — unusually for a California winery, Jordan makes just one flagship Cabernet each year — but where was he?
The previous year, Davis stopped by the table and regaled us with a story about his recent bicycle ride to work. Indeed, Davis even bikes to work during harvest sometimes, and it seems he was stopped along the way, if I recall the story correctly, until he explained to the patrolman that he had to get to the harvest!
However, we didn’t find him this past September until we followed the thundering noise we kept hearing throughout lunch. Around the corner to the crush pad, we found Davis overseeing the delivery of juicy Petit Verdot grapes as they hit the metal hopper. Although Petit Verdot is a minor player in the final blend, “Rob’s at every delivery,” I was told — sometimes even nudging the grapes out of the gondola with a pitchfork.
I can recommend a warm bowl of smoky chili with the 2009 this winter, topped with a bit of Manchego or cheddar cheese (the more tannic 2013 did not play as well with cheese). And here’s another slightly different winter recipe pairing, courtesy of Jordan Vineyard & Winery:
“Quick” Beef and Chicken Winter Pho
Beef and chicken pho stock
Fresh sage, thyme or marjoram, for garnish
Shaved black truffles, for garnish
For the mushroom conserve
2 pounds assorted mushrooms (chanterelles, shiitakes, hen-of-the-woods, trumpet, and oyster)
2 cups Jordan Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 clove garlic
2 sprigs thyme
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
¼ tsp kosher salt
For the beef and chicken pho stock
5 Tbsp grapeseed or canola oil
3 pounds oxtail, cut into sections
2 pounds chicken wings or backs
1 leek, sliced in half lengthwise
1 bunch scallions
1 yellow onion, quartered
1 3-inch piece of ginger, sliced in half lengthwise
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
4 star anise
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 quarts chicken stock or water
¼ cup fish sauce
2 Tbsp Demerara sugar (1 Tbsp light brown sugar may be substituted)
1 lime, zested and juiced
Brush any dirt off of mushrooms and remove stems. Heat oil in a sauce pot over medium-low heat. Add garlic and thyme and allow the garlic to permeate the oil until fragrant, about five minutes. Remove the garlic and thyme and add the mushrooms. Gently stir the mushrooms in the oil and cook for five minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vinegar and salt, and allow the mushrooms to cool completely in the oil. Use for serving immediately or store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a week.
Prepare a hot direct fire for grilling.
Place the oxtail and chicken wings on a rimmed sheet pan. Drizzle 2 Tbsp of oil over the meat and toss to coat. Place under the broiler until the oxtail and chicken wings are thoroughly browned. Flip and continue to broil until browned on the other side. Reserve until needed.
In a large bowl, toss to coat the leek, scallions, and onion with 2 Tbsp of oil. Place on the grill and grill until charred on all sides. Reserve.
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil over medium-high heat, sauté the ginger cut side down until caramelized. Add spices and thyme and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Next, add oxtail, chicken, leek, scallions, onion, chicken stock or water, fish sauce, sugar, lime zest, and juice. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to a low simmer. Simmer for four hours or until stock has reduced by a third. Strain out the solids with a fine meshed sieve or cheesecloth, and chill quickly in a large bowl placed in an ice bath. Remove any fat that rises to the surface. Reheat broth to serve or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to three days or freeze for up to a month. Alternatively, a pressure cooker can be used for this step by sautéing the ginger and spices over medium heat, adding the remaining ingredients, and cooking for one hour with full (high) pressure. Allow to depressurize naturally for a clear broth.
To serve, place a serving of mushroom conserve in each bowl and pour hot pho stock over. Garnish with fresh herbs and shaved black truffle (if desired).