2004 Jordan Cabernet in magnum: vertical tasting notes

by on November 7, 2012

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Last week, I organized a tasting of nine vintages of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon for Sean Brosnihan and the Guest Services team who host our daily tours and tastings. Because I’m the new kid on the block and we don’t get to uncork older vintages in the library that often, this tasting was an opportunity to educate myself on how our library wines are evolving—and a great way for Guest Services to refresh their tasting notes. Guests often ask if a particular vintage is ready to drink or still alive, and these types of tastings help us provide our recommendations.

At 9 a.m., our white-washed technical tasting room was splashed with ruby-red color from more than 100 filled wine glasses on the center table. We tasted Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon vintages 1999-2007—a true vertical tasting—starting with the oldest wine first. Vertical tastings are often set up and tasted from youngest to oldest with the idea that wines increase in complexity as they become more mature and that younger wines (only consisting of the primary fruit characteristics) should be tasted first. The wines certainly do increase in complexity as they age with the development of the secondary aromatics, such as dried tea leaf and tobacco in addition to the primary fruit aromas, but they also become a bit more delicate. To prevent the more bold fruit and body structure of the younger wine from overpowering the complex but delicate character of the more mature vintage, I prefer tasting from oldest to youngest.

We’ll be releasing new When to Drink video tasting notes for all nine vintages shortly both here and on all the wine shopping pages in our new online store, so I thought I’d share my overall impressions of the tasting with you today—and highlight the most surprising and fascinating wine of the flight.

Overall, the tasting was a crowd pleaser to say the least. With the balance that our winemaking approach consistently delivers, the wines are incredibly attractive and approachable at any stage with the finesse and elegance only increasing with age.

The wine that shocked us all was the 2004 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon. I opened two different bottles of 2004—a standard 750mL and a 1.5 liter—so we could assess the wines for differences in maturity of aromas, flavors and tannins due to the slower aging that occurs in bigger bottle formats. The 2004 Jordan Cabernet is still very much in its youthful primary stage of maturing for both the 750mL and 1.5L bottles; however, the larger format bottle is already showing promise of a deeper integration and complexity amongst the silky tannins, lively acidity and black fruit structure. Because 2004 was a challenging vintage, there have been rumblings in the past about how long it would age and how it would taste five years after its release. It’s never tasted better. Even Winemaker Rob Davis thinks this wine has really hit its stride in the last year—and shows no sign of slowing down.

Sean and I were so impressed with the wine he decided to feature 2004 magnums in the November offering to Jordan Estate Rewards members. (If you aren’t on our mailing list, click here to receive our monthly e-newsletter.) In my opinion, magnums are great whether one prefers young or mature wines. For those that really appreciate the complexities of a more mature wine, these magnums may be an excellent addition to their cellar, as the larger bottle allows for a slower aging process to occur, ultimately delivering greater depth and complexity to both the texture and development of the secondary components. Also, the “sweet spot”–the point at which the primary and secondary components are mingling with each other in perfect harmony–will last a few years longer in the magnum. On the flip side, magnums are a good choice for those that like their wines youthful and fruity as they will remain that way longer.

My notes from the tasting:
The hue of the 2004 is a beautiful garnet with medium depth intensity showing little sign of aging. The aromatics are rich with black cherry, raspberry, blueberry, plum and cassis with a forest floor backdrop. These characteristics are strengthened on the palate with round and silky tannins balanced by a vibrant acidity. It all comes together forming a soft and creamy sweet vanilla and red fruit finish lasting over a minute. This wine is currently flaunting its youthful primary fruit characteristics and will likely not hit the peak of the “sweet spot” for five years—10 years after it was released.

Seven hours after the tasting, I returned to revisit the same glasses, expecting the wines to be dead. Instead, I found that they had only improved. It was a testament to the balance and stability of Jordan wines and an eye-opening exercise about decanting recommendations. We usually suggest decanting the 2004 vintage for one hour before serving. That’s too limiting. Feel free to decant all evening. It will only get better. It’s the last vintage including Cabernet Franc in the blend, which was replanted to Petit Verdot, so definitely a slice of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon history that is ready to be savored as our 40th anniversary draws to a close.

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  • sjshoes

    Rob/Greg,
    I can only say “diddo” to your notes on the Jordan vertical’s.
    Last Saturday night I had the pleasure of hosting a few of my real “critical” Oneophyles up to my cellar in Lake Havasu. I dug out the ’99 to ’04 Jordan Cab Vertical box collection we picked up a few years aga. Note, I have been a Jordan lover since our first bottle of 1989 Cab I picked up on a recommendation from friends for our 15 anniversary. We were completely sold!
    Now, back to the vertical…. On a completely blind, side by side vetical tasting, you should have heard the 6 different pallets describe the same six vintages being tasted. What fun! What a way to show how everyone has a different palate. And what a perfect way to see how wines change once opened and/or decanted. I’d bet 5 of the 6 changed their minds as to which vintage was their favorite, and I mean changed three or four times during the 2 hour tasting. The ’04 quickly showed itself as a favorite with its soft sweet fruits and its slight oaky finish. Then the 2002 started “talking to some of us. With it’s incredabily smooth tannins bringing on the magnificant cherry left us wondering what else this wine will bring in another 20/30 minutes. It did… My love for Cab Franc was not to be disappointed.. as the slight (1% I beleive) blend of the Franc really brought this Cab to the forefront and one of my two favorites! Loving the more mature wines, I fell in love from start to end with the 1999 Cab. The fruits have darkened and the nose gives up a real boquet of new shoe leather, all spice and a good cigar. Still some very distinguished fruit on the tip of the tongue followed by great acidity and bold tannins on the back palate and a long finish again sold me on just what Jordan can and has accomplished. Any one of the 6 vintages would stand on their own. Depending on the select palate, tehy show big ariomatic fruits to bold sensual earth, wind and wow!
    Overall, your wines made me look smart… But really, my hats off the Rob and the whole Jordan family for giving me the opprotunity to bring more friends into your family.