“Often mistaken for a white Burgundy …” begins Jordan Winery’s description of its Russian River Valley Chardonnay, and it’s not hard to see why.
The iconic Chardonnay from the almost-half-century-old, still-family-owned winery is a model of Burgundy-style restraint and elegance that is striking from the first sip. It is pretty much the antithesis of Big Chardonnay from California, as Jordan’s 2016 wine reminds us.
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No alcohol approaching 15 percent here; no aggressive, new-American-oak infusion of vanilla and butterscotch notes, either.
Instead, the wine is aged in less intrusive French oak barrels, which accent rather than define it. The result is a tightly focused Chardonnay with opulent fruit, flinty minerality, refreshing acidity, and alcohol listed at 13.7 percent — a wine that has dimension and is effortless to drink.
The tastes suggest green apple, white peach, and apricot, with a refreshing citrus note and hints of brown sugar, baking spices, and green olive. There is a slightly creamy overlay. All the components are subtle but meld seamlessly into a distinctive wine that is well worth the $36 suggested price (Wine-Searcher lists it for considerably less in some stores).
The 2016 has been around for a year or so and is benefiting from some time in the bottle, judging from its balance. It’s the kind of wine that will be fun to try three or five years from now as well.
Jordan makes just two wines, the Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon for which it is equally acclaimed and for which the winery cites first-growth Bordeaux as a model. Jordan likes to use words like “food-friendly,” “balanced,” and “elegant” to describe its wines. While they have California in their soul, they are, indeed, French in spirit. For my money, they represent the best of both worlds.