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Tasting notes from South Africa

text and photographs © 2010 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on South Africa 2010.

JORDAN ESTATE

The biggest buzz around Jordan on my visit was the recent opening of a new restaurant at the winery, run by George Jardine, one of South Africa's top 100 chefs for the past two years who wanted to move with his family to the country. I can vouch for the terrific quality of the food after lunch there with the Jordans and a small gathering of winemakers.

The Jordans' minds were somewhat pre-occupied during my visit by a looming crisis over mining rights. A state-owned company had apparently been granted the rights to prospect for tin, zinc, lithium, lead, copper, manganese and silver on various farmlands, including Jordan's best vineyards. Success would have given the company the rights to mine in the midst of some of the Cape's best vineyards and most beautiful scenery.
  

Gary Jordan (in thoughtful repose, above) was a prime mover in opposing the move. Thankfully, the application to prospect was withdrawn in March 2010, though many in the Cape remain nervous about the issue raising its very ugly head again in the future.

Meanwhile, winemaking goes on at one of the Cape's most conscientious estates. The Jordan's learned their trade in California, "Though one thing we learned from our time there," says Gary Jordan, "is that people don't want a degree in carpentry to drink a bottle of wine, so we are very judicious with our oak."

The Jordans have two different cellars, one dedicated to Chardonnay with Burgundian oak barrels and different temperature controls, and one for Sauvignon Blanc and red wines. The vineyards have distinct differences too, which the Jordans exploit to suit different varieties: cool, south-facing slopes for Sauvignon Blanc, east-facing clay soils for Merlot and higher slopes of clay and loam for Chardonnay for example.

Jordan Estate wines

UK Agent is ABS Agencies, but see all stockists of Jordan Estate on wine-searcher.

Jordan Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Skin contact for several hours. Quite mineral and tight, with a gentle herby leafiness. It has lots of cool climate finesse, the fine lemon zest fruit and fresh, pithy acidity is delicate and lovely, though aromatic and quite bold. 89/100. £7.99, SAwinesonline, Fareham, Frank Stainton.

Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Will be called 'The Outlier' from this vintage. Barrel fermented, but barrels rolled, not stirred, so bungs don't have to be removed. Lovely quality of oak, with such fragrant, lightly biscuit and cashew, with the fruit piercing through. But no disjoint here: it is a very harmonious style, with lovely fruit clarity and a balanced, long finish, the touch of herby character just adding a spark to the mineral acidity of the finish. 90/100. £9.99

Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2008
Barrel-fermented in small French oak barrels, and around nine months in oak. Direct to press, no sulphur to make it oxidative. Some wild yeast fermentation. Lovely creamy nose, with lots of butter and almond and cashew. Beautifully refined nose and smooth palate, with delicious intensity to the lemon and lime fruit. There's a terrific clarity to this, the softening oatmeal playing against a little bit of phenolic grip. 90/100. £9.99 - £10.49,

Cobblers Hill 2005
Nevers and Alliers oak, quite different to the small Burgundian coopers used on the Chardonnay. Five star Platter. Named after Gary's father who was a shoemaker. Cabernet, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. 24 months in oak in total, though blend is made after 12. Lovely elegant fragrance, with herbs and a touch of cedar, a little minerality and touch of gamey, plummy character set against the almost floral and fennel touches. The sweetness of the fruit is delightful, but those big, ripe, spicy tannins do add some muscle making this quite full and relatively powerful, with a long, very persistent finish. Fabulous wine. 93/100. £15.99 - £17.99.

Jordan Sophia CWG Auction Reserve 2003
Cabernet Sauvignon dominated Bordeaux blend made for the Cape Winemakers Guild charity auction (Sophie is the mother of Faith, Hope and Charity). 26-month barrel ageing. Lovely big aromatics, with some figgy, herbal quality and a certain smokiness. Very fine mineral notes. There's an exquisite sweetness to the fruit, with that savoury cut and bittersweet cherry skin bite. 94/100.

See all stockists of Jordan Estate on wine-searcher.

return to South Africa 2010