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MICHAEL GREEN’S WINE NOTES: No.133 (article first published : 2005-07-5)

The name Jordan was for a long time associated with high quality South African shoes. Now it is a big name in the South African wine industry. Same family, different direction.

Ted and Sheelagh Jordan sold their successful shoe business more than twenty years ago and bought a 300-year-old farm on high, cool ground in the Stellenbosch district. Since then Jordan Winery has become a major name on the wine scene. The property now encompasses 105 hectares of vineyards and the cellar produces about 65,000 cases of wine a year, roughly half and half red and white.

The Jordans’ son Gary now runs the show with his wife Kathy, a rare example of a husband and wife partnership in the demanding task of winemaking. They are both graduates of the University of Cape Town, he in geology and she in economics, and they spent two years in California acquiring the skills and knowledge needed to run a winery.

Today there are, I think, eighteen different Jordan wines on the market, including cabernet, merlot, chardonnay sauvignon blanc and chenin blanc and various blends. Over the years I have tried several of them and I have never been disappointed. They are of consistently high quality. They are not cheap, but, given the quality, they offer reasonable value.

Two new releases from the cellar are Jordan Syrah and Jordan Mellifera Noble Late Harvest, both from the 2003 vintage. Syrah is of course another name for shiraz, and this red wine from Jordan is an excellent example of the cultivar. Matured in French and American oak barrels for 14 months, the wine has rich, deep flavours and the chocolate, peppery character so typical of shiraz. It would go well with almost any food, or indeed by itself, and, like most reds these days, it is quite potent, 14 percent alcohol. Retail price is about R80 a bottle.

The Mellifera gets its unusual name from the Cape honey bee, Apis Mellifera Capensis, which inhabits the many beehives that Gary Jordan keeps on the farm. It is an appropriate name; this noble late harvest wine has a touch of honey in its taste to add to the delicious peach, apricot, raisin flavours. It is a lovely dessert wine. Alcohol is not formidable, 12 percent, but this is a wine for delicate sipping and savouring. The retail price is about R90 for a 375 ml. bottle (half-bottle).

The Jordan Winery, which has a splendid modern cellar, is open for tasting and sales on weekdays. Tasting costs R10 a head, which is refunded if wine is bought. Picnic hampers can be bought by advance arrangement for a lunch on the lawns overlooking the farm dam, or visitors can bring their own picnics. Phone 021 881 3441, e-mail: info@jordanwines.com - Michael Green




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