Jorge Ordonez

Jorge Ordonez with Ateca "Atteca" Garnacha

Pioneer. Visionary. Legend.  These words are so overused (often by me)…so what do you call someone who really is a PVL?  In this case, I’ll call him a rock star, because just as a rock star is more than a musician and the president is more than a politician, Jorge Ordonez is more than a wine importer.  He is a rock star of the wine industry, and we’re not simply talking limestone and schist.

Three words are consistently associated with Jorge:

Quality.  Influence.  Charisma.

Before Jumilla was a household word, there was Jorge Ordonez, ambassador of the Spanish wine world.  In the 1980s, Jorge recognized that the Spanish wine trade needed an intervention.  The vines were there, the wines were there, but that wasn’t what was making it into the households of the American consumer.  The good wines were often not so, by the time they were shipped across the Atlantic in un-refrigerated conditions.  Grapes from the oldest vines in the world were being lumped in with new stock, resulting in mass-production plonk.  For the winemakers who were making great wines already, Jorge organized controlled shipping and distribution so that what went into the bottle in Spain was what arrived on our shores.  Recognizing the value in Spain’s pre-phylloxera vine heritage, Jorge championed the potential for low-yield, highly concentrated wines and guided these wines into bottle and ultimately, the international marketplace.

His quality standards from the vine to the restaurant are such that he has raised the level of the entire Spanish wine industry, as others must now compete on the field he has groomed.

Mark Donato & Jorge Ordonez at Cinco restaurant, Nantucket

Mark Donato & Jorge Ordonez at Cinco restaurant, Nantucket

Jorge’s aggressive management style has influenced every aspect of Spanish wine production from the vineyard to the bottle label.  Some bemoan the modernization of old world wines, but Jorge maintains that he is merely an adviser and only intervenes when asked or needed.  Nevertheless, modern technology has come to Spanish regions that were mere backwaters 20 years ago and dozens of indigenous varietals have reached a wider audience, while outside varietals, eg chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon have been introduced.

Jorge has developed some interesting and influential projects in the last decade.  In addition to importing and consulting, he is now highly regarded producer and his collaborations as well as his own projects have proved extraordinarily successful, in case you haven’t heard…El Nido,  a joint venture with Australian wizards Chris Ringland and Dan Phillips has been called the greatest wine ever to come out of Jumilla.  The “El Nido” is generally 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Monastrell and has received 93-99 points from Robert Parker every year of it’s brief existence since 2002, with it’s cousin Clio not far behind.  That is impressive even to those who pretend they don’t care about points.  These are modern wines:  big, extracted, fruit-forward mouthfuls of wine showing their Australian influence and appealing to an American palate.

Jorge has also endeavored to celebrate the Moscatel of his native Malaga through Jorge Ordonez & Co. a joint venture winery with the late Austrian, Alois Kracher, and his son, Gerhard.  Their original and aromatic Botani Moscatel Seco (high elevation, hand-harvested, air dried) is a revelation in dry Moscatel and the sweet moscatels are superior as well.

Jorge Amanda

Lastly, this leaves charisma.  Just because you can sing doesn’t mean you’re the next Madonna.  You can be the most knowledgeable wino on the planet or represent the best wine in the world, but words will fall on deaf ears without personality and passion behind them.  Jorge’s demanding and dynamic style combined with unflagging determination have brought Spain much recognition and prosperity in just twenty years.  He represents nearly 50 Spanish wineries (which could easily be doubled), holding them each to his exacting standards, regardless of price, and he continues to bring his own innovative and quality wines to the market.  Considered the Martha Stewart or Oprah of the Spanish wine world, vineyards that are not meticulous don’t make the cut and there is a long line of wineries waiting to take their place.

In a nutshell,  since 1987, Jorge Ordonez has saved the Spain’s old vines from the tractor, brought them to their true potential, and then educated the world of their value.  It is exciting to think what the next twenty may bring…!

Jorge Ordonez wine tasting at currentVintage:

5-7 Monday, September 21, 2009


Nantucket Food Pantry dinner at Cinco

Featuring Jorge Ordonez and wines of Fine Estates from Spain

6:00 Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Watch Jorge Ordonez interview on The Wine Library

Bottom two photos Courtesy of Gene Mahon,

top photo courtesy of