Fiona McDonald came around for supper last night and when two former Wine magazine editors get together, it’s only fitting that some decent bottles get opened. She brought a bottle of Jordan Cape Winemakers Guild Sophia 2002 which she acquired at the 2004 auction when normal wine lovers could still afford to hold a bidding paddle aloft (average price of Sophia 2002 was R208 a bottle while that of the 2007 at the 2009 auction was R546); I was able to match it with a bottle of Jordan Cobblers Hill 2001, which originally sold for R165 a bottle.
The wines proved fine drinking although in a very modern idiom, winemaking duo Gary and Kathy Jordan having studied at UC Davis. The Cobblers Hill 2001 is a blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% each of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, and the wine spent 22 months in French oak, 100% new; 15% abv.
Sophia 2002, meanwhile, is 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 8% Merlot, the blend drawn from the best Cobblers Hill barrels and a reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine spent 26 months in French oak, 100% new and abv is again 15%.
Both were big and rich as might be expected from the above. The Cobblers Hill 2001 showed dark fruit, chocolate and a hint of mint with fine, soft tannins; the Sophia 2002 was even more plush, sweet fruited and possessing extremely smooth tannins.
I ever so slightly preferred the Cobblers Hill 2001 to the Sophia 2002 on account of it having more complexity and balance but whether that was because 2001 was a better vintage to 2002, or because the 2002 was just a touch overdone (as CWG wines can tend to be), I’m not sure. To be hyper-critical, both wines lacked a little finesse: ten years ago, Jordan was one of the producers that lead the way in terms of moving away from red wines that showed under-ripe character but the way forward is surely to get the same fruit expression without quite so much power and weight.