Yesterday a vertical of 2002 through 2009 of Nine Yards Chardonnay from Jordan in Stellenbosch as well as 2004 through 2009 of the cuvée made by cellarmaster Gary Jordan for the Cape Winemakers Guild auction. Both wines are from the same 2ha vineyard planted in 1988 on granite and shale-derived soils and having an east-south east aspect delivering the best quality fruit on the property. “The resulting wines tend to be bigger, fuller and more expressive than our standard bottling,” explains Jordan.
Jordan and winemaker Sjaak Nelson, inoculate the must of any particular vintage using a variety of yeasts as well as leaving some to undergo spontaneous fermentation while also using a selection of Burgundian coopers. Both wines spend between 12 and 14 months in barrel (as opposed to 9 months in the case of the standard offering). As for the difference between the two, the CWG typically features a greater proportion of wine that underwent spontaneous ferment and is intended to be the more age-worthy.
According to Jordan, the stylistic departure point in conceiving both wines is the Burgundian appellations of Mersault, Puligny-Montrachet and Montrachet, but ultimately he wants to stamp a Jordan imprint on the wines in order to arrive at “really good Cape Chardonnay”.
Emerging out of yesterday’s vertical tastings, what was striking was the extraordinarily high overall quality. These wines are in a powerful, weighty style thus making them the antithesis of wines such as Atraxia or Paul Cluver and this may or may not be to your personal taste but it is impossible to quibble that of their style, they are very good indeed.
A stand-out wine was the Nine Yards 2002 which showed citrus, honey and some pleasing developed character on the nose while the palate was rich and broad balanced by tangy acidity. A fantastic achievement that this wine should be drinking so well nine years on from vintage.
The CWG 2007, meanwhile, was simply awesome in its complexity and intensity. Normally not one for fanciful tasting notes, I nonetheless picked up apricot, peach, blue orange and some yeasty character on the nose. The wine is rich and full but balanced – a very luxurious drinking experience.
We tasted in pairs according to vintage, and what was remarkable in each case was just how different the Nine Yards was to the CWG bottling, the former typically being cleaner and more pure fruited, the latter more exotic and complex (thanks to the spontaneous ferment, no doubt). Very often, I found I couldn’t choose between the two, liking both for different reasons. However, the Nine Yards 2009 was another wine I liked very much on account of its great fruit definition and relative elegance compared to its CWG counterpart which is hugely concentrated and thick textured.