Hall of Fame Vintages

A legendary winemaker’s top picks

What are the best years for Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon? This is a question often asked by wine collectors, as well as those who have been holding onto a special bottle from an anniversary or birth year. Because Jordan has been making wine since 1976, there are many great vintages in both our memories and our library, but we asked long-time winemaker and baseball lover Rob Davis to whittle down his finest vintages over 44 years into one list. Consider this his Jordan Hall of Fame.

The following sensory notes and comments were compiled from technical tastings over the last two years. Vintage wine is a living thing that evolves over time, and every palate finds its own set of charms in each wine. If you open one of these bottles, please tag us @jordanwinery to let us know if you agree with our notes.

1978 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

1978 was considered a great vintage across the region. After a cold, wet spring, warm weather prevailed. Despite two previous years of drought, the crop in Alexander Valley was bountiful and of exceptionally high quality. Though 1978 was a classic year for cabernet, four decades is a long time for red wine to live. As expected, the 1978 Jordan Cabernet is beyond peak maturity. It presents shy notes of leather, tobacco and cedar with hints of cherry, spice and dust. While this wine still displays the charms of an old, classic Bordeaux-style red, we prefer the 1979 for its aging merit.

1979 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

1979 yielded a smaller crop than 1978, and the wine was more concentrated, but less opulent. In its youth, the 1979 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon was considered a great wine for its fruit and finesse—assertive in fruit expression, yet well-rounded in bouquet. Decades later, the wine is desperately holding on to what is left of the once perfectly balanced components of acidity, fruit, alcohol and tannins. It has a lovely aged Bordeaux quality (leather, cherry, herbal tea, plums), and a still-lively palate with soft, silky tannins. While wines bottled in 750mL are past their peak, larger formats should be opened now.

1985 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

Rob Davis regards 1985 as the best vintage of the 1980s— a decade that included very few good years. Gorgeous weather in Alexander Valley produced ripe, rich and fleshy cabernets with superb balance. A nice, even growing season led to tremendous harmony both in the vineyards and the grapes. Though still a beauty on many levels, the 1985 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon is finally showing its age. Bottles stored under the best conditions show mature favors of dried red fruit, leather and earth with hints of caramel. The 750mL is past its peak, and magnums, 3L and 6L formats should be uncorked now.

1994 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

The long, cool harvest season allowed this cabernet to fully develop its varietal character through extended hang time. A long harvest occurred due to cold nights late in the growing season, which prolonged ripening and allowed the fruit to reach optimal sugar levels. Acidity in the juice was low due to the extra time on the vine, but it increased due to the tannic acid in the skins by the time the wine was pressed. The 1994 Jordan Cabernet is just past its peak but still beautifully rounded and balanced with aromas of red cherry, light black fruits and sweet floral notes. Magnums, 3L and 6L formats should be enjoyed now.

1997 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

This wine’s Sonoma County designation reflects the broader grape sourcing used during the replanting of Jordan’s estate vineyard after phylloxera devastated Northern California. 1997 was a generous vintage that provided a bounty of stunning fruit—intensely aromatic and layered with lush, dense flavors. Harvest began a month early with grapes picked at a frantic pace. The fruit was intensely aromatic, layered with blackberry, chocolate and cassis. At full maturity, the 1997 Jordan Cabernet presents favors of black cherry, strawberry, herbs and cedar. With ripe and supple tannins, the wine is at its peak in 750mL and 1.5L, but 3L and 6L bottles can hold for three to five more years.

2002 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

Arguably this decade’s greatest vintage, 2002 marks Jordan’s return to the Alexander Valley appellation after replanting its estate vineyard due to phylloxera. The vintage was characterized by fruit uniformity due to an excellent growing season tempered by a lack of extreme heat or rain. Overall, it was a wonderful season which produced a layered, textured cabernet sauvignon. The 2002 still tastes quite young, displaying aromas of red cherries, dried herbs and a hint of white pepper. The palate is silky and round, exuding layers of black cherry and blackberry favors seamlessly integrated with smooth tannins. Dried cherry and jasmine tea favors linger on the finish. Enjoy 750mL bottles through 2022, magnums through 2030 and larger formats beyond 2032.

2007 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2007 vintage was a winemaker’s dream. A smaller crop yielded more concentrated favors in the grapes, and moderate temperatures allowed the fruit to mature slowly, resulting in one of Jordan’s top vintages of the decade. Temperate conditions allowed the winery to pick pristine grapes over a six-week period, ensuring optimal maturity. The 2007 wine exudes beautiful, dense blackberry and cassis aromas that echo through the mid-palate. A lush mouthfeel of well-integrated, silky tannins and balanced acidity is accented by notes of vanilla and cedar. Drink 750mL bottles now or cellar through 2027. Larger formats can hold from 2035 to 2056.

2009 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

Rob Davis was ecstatic about this vintage, which combined an excellent Alexander Valley growing season with Jordan’s new direction for fruit sourcing. Enticing aromas of blackberry, cassis, oak spices and cedar carry through a textured, silky palate with smooth tannins from French oak barrel aging. The 2009 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon is still showing some youthful acidity and dark fruit after years of age. Enjoy 750mL bottles through 2028, 1.5L bottles through 2034, 3L bottles through 2042 and 6L bottles through 2044.

2012 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 was truly a phenomenal growing season, resulting in one of the most complex Jordan Cabernet Sauvignons to date. The vintage validated Jordan’s decision to elevate the black-fruit intensity in the wines without abandoning the house style, culminating in an incredibly complex, balanced wine. This wine has concentrated aromas of blackberries and black cherries with a hint of cedar. Its silky palate is plush yet poised, boasting a beautiful balance of black fruit and fine tannin structure. The finish is lively, lingering and laced with ripe dark fruits. The wine tastes incredible in 750mL and magnum now and will continue to reward collectors for decades. 3L can hold until 2047.

2013 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

One of the warmest, driest and earliest growing seasons on record, 2013 had moderate weather throughout summer, allowing the grapes to develop intense, concentrated flavors with lots of structure. Exceptionally rich and complex, the wine has intense aromas of cassis, black currants, blackberries and ripe cherries with a lovely floral note. The palate is rich and seductive, with concentrated flavors of blackberries and cassis, interwoven with fine tannins from new French oak barrels. Its masculine structure is harnessed by a balance of acidity and dark fruits with a long, cassis-laced finish. This is a highly collectible vintage to be enjoyed now or cellared through 2032.

Jordan’s oldest vintages—especially those from the 1970s, 1980s and into the mid-`90s—are not listed for sale on the website due to limited quantities. For current availability information, please call 707-431-5250 or email