A handful of wine producers have established such impressive track records for excellence over the years that they’ve attained “mainstay status” at Legal Sea Foods. Their quality reputation inspires so much trust and confidence that we rarely blind taste their wines. Almost always family-owned and vineyard-based, these wineries stay the course vintage-to-vintage, rather than attempting to adjust their style to current market fashions.
Jordan Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, from Sonoma’s Alexander Valley, is among our most admired wines in this iconic category. Founded by the Jordan family in the mid-1970s as a property dedicated to emulating the great estates of Bordeaux, Jordan continues to produce a Cabernet of finesse, harmony and elegance, eschewing the trend for blockbuster, high tannin and strongly alcoholic wine that has achieved such popularity among some Cabernet fans. This mellower, more understated expression of the noble grape is perhaps a better fit to most palates with the seafood we serve.
While part of the reason that Jordan Cabernet tastes as it does relates to a stylistic preference, it’s also largely a reflection of the vineyards from which the grapes are sourced. (Bordeaux, the original inspiration, produces wines in a lower key than is typically the case in California’s North Coast.) As an Alexander Valley, Sonoma County winery, Jordan’s Cabernet grapes grow in conditions that are slightly less warm than those in neighboring Napa Valley. Cabernet requires substantial sunshine and heat to ripen its thick skins, which Alexander Valley provides, as it is inland and therefore cut off from prevailing Pacific fogs and winds. In Napa, on the other hand, the intense sunlight often results in richer, fuller, blacker fruit forward wines. Alexander Valley conditions tend to provide greater natural acidity to the grapes, and their fruit flavors are more tart and red, rather than dark or chocolatey. A further element that polishes Jordan’s Cabernet: it’s always under 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and includes (à la Bordeaux), a high proportion of Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec.
When we created a special menu focusing on the wines of Sonoma last fall, we offered Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon by the glass and it proved so popular at both Legal Crossing and Legal Harborside in Boston that we decided to continue this option going forward at these restaurants. Comments we got from guests who had never tried it before often involved appreciation at how well it complemented, without overwhelming, our fish preparations. We’ve also been told that our pricing for Jordan Cabernet in the restaurants where we serve it by the bottle is among the lowest around, and that it’s not much more than you might expect to pay in a retail store. We’re proud to see people enjoying bottles of great wine with our food, even on casual occasions, so our goal is to keep prices reasonable to encourage this, particularly as a family-owned company featuring wineries with which we cherish a long and deep relationship. As a further amenity, at our Park Square restaurant we offer a “library selection” of eleven different vintages of the Jordan Cabernet, going back to its second year of production (1977), and including three vintages in magnums (1981, 1995 and 2009).
We’re also thrilled to once again welcome Jordan Winery’s Associate Winemaker Maggie Kruse to Legal Harborside on March 23rd to present current and library vintages matched to a wonderful dinner menu. This will present a rare opportunity to enjoy some cellar selections (1999 and 2006), along with the current 2012, which tastes a bit more opulent than previous vintages, with a silky, lush texture and succulent black cherry fruit profile, while remaining true to the understated and subtle style. Please email me directly (email@example.com) if you’d like to attend. And, if you’re not able to, stop in and try a glass or a bottle of Jordan the next time you’re in; I think you’ll see why it’s so popular.
Sandy Block, Master of Wine