What do these things have in common: Cabernet, Beef, a BBQ grill, and Frank Sinatra. The first four things that come to mind when you’re planning dinner? The items most critical to survival if stranded on a desert island? Things that guarantee a good time?
All are excellent guesses, but the answer we are thinking of is: classics. Each of these is a classic in its genre, at least to us. And this week, we are focusing on a simple but classic pairing– deep, dark, elegant Cabernet with a steak on the grill. (By the way, when we say “grill,” we specifically mean The Big Green Egg.) We deliberated long and hard about which Cabernet to choose from the cellar. Sometimes the deliberating can be almost as fun as the selecting. In the end, we chose the 2003 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon from the Alexander Valley in Sonoma County.
Like an old friend, the Jordan Cab has been a regular in our cellar since we visited the winery eight years ago. We arrived at the gorgeous Jordan estate on a beautiful sunny, summer day. We relished the elegance of the winery, which looks like a French chateau, and of the wine, which hints of French Bordeaux. The tasting was held in a handsome, wood-paneled library– the kind of room where you wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Frank Sinatra in a silk dinner jacket bantering with friends. But instead of Sinatra, it was Kip and me, along with an intimate 8 or 10 others, gathered to taste the Jordan Cab and Chardonnay. We luxuriated in the surroundings and the guided tasting, which was accompanied by wonderful cheeses and the estate olive oil.
Jordan is by no means a small winery, so it takes us a little afield from our usual turf of covering the “little guys” of the wine world. At 90,000 cases produced a year, Jordan is definitely one of the “big guys.” But the winery shares common ground with many of our smaller favorites in that it is still a family run business. Founded by Tom and Sally Jordan in 1972, the winery is now run by their son John, who coincidentally was born on the very same day that they signed the deed to buy the winery property. (Interestingly, their daughter Judy runs her own operation at “J” Winery, which focuses on sparkling wine and Pinot Noir. J’s “Bubble Room” was the site of one our all-time most fun tastings. How could you not have fun at a place called The Bubble Room?)
The Jordans are among the pioneers in the early days of the California wine industry, choosing the Alexander Valley as the home for their fledgling winery in the early 70’s when it was still was a quiet outpost on the fringe of the Northern California wine country. What impresses us today about the Jordans is that they continue to honor tradition with the flavor profiles of their Cab and Chard, but at the same time they have leaped with both feet into new technology like tweeting and video blogging, to create new ways to connect with their customers. We admire that spirit of using new tools creatively to carry on the best of old traditions. (Visit Jordan’s Youtube Channel for lots of cool videos that give you an “up close and personal” view of the winery and the people behind it.)
And what about the 2003 Cab? We found it little reminiscent of Bordeaux in the aroma. And with leather, spice and earth more than fruit. Lush, thick mouthfeel. Dark fruit, black cherry, with a few hints of coffee. Tartness of acidity late in the sip. An elegant, seamless package. Opened up beautifully in the glass and made a wonderful companion to our beef on the grill and even to the grilled vegetables that we also enjoyed that evening.
So this week, we are putting Sinatra’s “Too Marvelous For Words” first on our playlist and toasting to all things classic– the traditions that stand the test of time, that make life a little better, that add a touch of elegance, and remind us to pause and savor the good things in our midst.