Wine visionary continues to pour in the hard work
FOR more than three decades Tony Jordan has dealt with challenges in the Australian wine industry, the kind with lasting impact on the type of wines we drink, what grapes are grown and where.
He has played many roles: wine scientist, consultant, teacher, winemaker, administrator, judge, vineyard owner.
Armed with a formidable intellect and a PhD in electronic spectroscopy, Dr Jordan has been - and continues to be - one of the wine industry's great doers, hacking through forests of inertia, conservatism and ignorance.
Like his long-held view on where Australian wine should be going: "We're in a new era. We are still the leading new-world exporter but we have to look at the image of Australia today. In a lot of markets the image is one of a few big brands and value-for-money wines," he said. "We need to re-image Australia around terroir, wine regions and quality. Simple as that."
His early career went hand in hand with another trailblazer type, Brian Croser. They set up the winemaking course at Charles Sturt University. The two also became early consultants in the new era of Australian winemaking in the 1970s through their Oenotec group.
Both men contributed to a generation of Australian winemakers being imbued with a technical mastery of the science of winemaking never seen.
When they parted in the mid-1980s, Jordan embarked on more groundbreaking work: flying winemaker (albeit briefly) and president of the Small Winemakers' Forum.
In 1985, Dr Jordan was headhunted by Champagne's largest producer, Moet & Chandon, to find, build and create an Australian sparkling wine of world class.
He chose a site on the Maroondah Highway at Coldstream, in the Yarra Valley, and the new venture was christened Domaine Chandon. It quickly became one of the country's leading sparkling wines with Dr Jordan as CEO and arbiter of style, initiating a fine, less overtly fruity style of Australian sparkling.
He went on to become involved in other Chandon satellites in Argentina, Brazil, California and Spain.
In 2008, Dr Jordan decided to step back from Domaine Chandon and a hectic schedule that also included wine judging and managing LVMH's other Australian-NZ wineries, Cape Mentelle and Cloudy Bay.
It's a retirement of sorts. He has his vineyard, Spear Gully, at Hoddles Creek and consults four months a year to the Moet Hennessy wineries worldwide.
His position on the board of the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation ensures there are always new political battles to engage in.
He said it was an honour to be recognised, but believes he still has a lot to contribute to the wine industry. "That was why I was delighted to be invited on to the corporation board just before I did retire. That was ideal.
"It's important that people are interested and involved."