Iona Red Blend

Mussels and Merlot

If you want to know more about Jordan, step into their shoes and visit them to understand why they have decided to make wine here in the first place. Ted Jordan was the third generation of shoemakers in the family, taking over as Managing Director of Jordan Shoes in 1961. In 1982, Ted and Sheelagh purchased the original 74-hectare Stellenbosch property that made up the core of Jordan Wine Estate and embarked on an extensive replanting programme. Until his retirement, at the age of 78, he was fully involved in harvesting activities.

Gary Jordan worked as a field Geologist before joining Ted full-time in 1985. He and his wife Kathy studied at the University of California (Davis) and obtained immense practical experience locally and abroad before emerging themselves in all aspects of the wine business at Jordan and turning it into a leading wine estate in South Africa. Also, with Sjaak Nelson in the winemaking team, Jordan has seen many well-deserved accolades across the board. They are recognized for their continuous involvement in community development and wine initiatives to better the SA Wine environment. Apart from being a top gourmet stop in the Stellenbosch Winelands, their Michelin-listed High Timber Restaurant on the Thames in London showcases the South African wine industry for oenophiles to enjoy.

For more information on the plethora of experiences at their Stellenbosch estate and all the fantastic things they do, visit their website, and look out for our feature on their accommodation later this month.

But for now, let’s turn those hungry eyes to their Black Magic Merlot and hand-harvested black mussels on the fire.

Jordan is family-owned with a team boasting 38 years’ experience in viticulture. Integrity and sustainability remain the golden thread of their innovative ventures. 

The Insides Club gives members access to exclusive offers, complimentary tastings, and access to their new underground cellar. Also, look out for their Harvest 2022 celebration in March.

The name Merlot is thought to be a diminutive of merle, the French name for the blackbird. At Jordan Wine Estate, our Merlot vineyards are based on Black Tourmaline-rich granite which darkens the soil, leading to perfumed, inky wines.

“Here is a Merlot that invites you to dive in and bathe your senses in its generous aromas of plum, ripe nectarine and mulberry wrapped in warm spice. Then, wait for that freshness that brings it all together.” – Samarie Smith WSETDip


  • The moment someone says, “you cannot pair this with that” it compels us to prove them wrong, like with mussels and Merlot. Harvesting fresh mussels or depending on a reliable fishmonger will ensure fleshy, plump mussels that will go well with a silky red wine like Merlot. Frozen mussels is not an option.
  • We once discovered a recipe called mussels in a red dress – made withred wine, tomato, sweet red pepper and chilli. The Black Magic Merlot has a perky acidity to match a tomato-based sauce as well as the viscosity and mouth filling fruit to buffer a bit of heat, so no problem there.
  • Adding olives (and some brine) to your sauce will nudge both the aromatics and flavours of red fruit while adding capers and basil will balance this with freshness and savoury nuances.
  • Once you have discovered doing this over open flames, or a braai, you will find how the smoky element elevates the fruit layers and marries with the spicy oak nuances in the wine.
  • Add a splash of wine to the mussels on the fire – this will be the golden thread tying the wine and the food together.
  • Reduce the sauce on the fire to add sweetness and caramelization before adding the mussels and steaming them. Don’t overcook them and discard the mussels that didn’t open.

Our Experience

Nothing at Jordan is done in vain or without the deliberate intention of creating a wine that will become an ambassador for its environment. The names of the wines bear testimony to their involvement with nature and their dedication to telling stories that will help consumers understand why wine is such an essential piece in the civilization puzzle. When you stand back to look at the whole picture, wine would inevitably bring people together. Our responsibility is to give back to nature in gratitude for this cultural elixir. 

The Merlot vineyards used for their estate range excels on Black Tourmaline-rich granite, which darkens the soil, and one can see this in the density and intensity of the colour when you pour a glass of the Merlot. It is so dark you cannot see your fingers through the wine, but you know it is packed with flavour.

Stellenbosch Kloof is significantly cooler than the inland Stellenbosch areas, and varying elevations and aspects are utilized for optimal expression of Merlot.

Albeit cooler from both maritime influences from False Bay and fresh breezes channelled from the West Coast’s Benguela current, it is ultimately still a Mediterranean climate ensuring optimal ripeness. The same philosophy of honouring terroir applies in the cellar where they have meshed the latest technology with a traditional old-world charm, harnessing the forces of nature through a gravity-flow system using natural cooling through recessing the cellar into the slope of the mountain.

Nosing the Jordan Black Magic Merlot 2018, it is unmistakable for what it is and for all the right reasons. Primary aromas of plum, cranberry, mulberry, sweet violet, even some dried rose jumps out at you, embraced by warm spicy oak nuances. We love how the subtle smokiness called for a braai and how the aromas of dark chocolate shavings, nutmeg and cinnamon open the door to experimental cooking. A slight herbaceous note of bay leaf and red peppercorns adds a welcoming cooler note. Still, the overruling flavours from nose to palate remains that of delicious, signature Merlot fruit.

Tasting the wine, it dances on tiptoes with lively acidity and ripe yet puckering tannin, strapping it in for the dancer to leap through the air. Deliciously so, the same fruit purity promised on the nose follows through, only now arresting every crevice in your mouth. It is simply delightful when a wine can announce itself like this, leaving no trace of awkward astringency behind in its delicate balance of fruit, acidity, and tannin. You are in for a treat and will be rewarded with a long, delicious finish.

See it for yourself

Gallery of our experience.
All images copyright Samarie Smith and/or the featured estate.

To have your wine featured and reviewed, please contact us.


Samarie +27 82 072 5451

Georgio +27 83 326 3016