A major player in the business of importing Spanish wines into America since founding Fine Estates from Spain in 1987, Jorge Ordóñez also gained a reputation for interfering in the wines of the producers he represented in the US. After being a minor shareholder in Bodega Numanthia in Toro (now part of the LVMH group) together with the Eguren family, he became fully involved in wine production in Spain in the early 2000s. He placed special emphasis on areas which were in full development at the time and others that were practically unknown but boasted precious assets in terms of old vines, hence foreseeing their great potential. In 2003 he started a personal project in the province of Malaga, his birthplace in Andalucía, aimed at recovering the sweet Muscat wines made in the rugged, fascinating region of Axarquía.
Partnering with local winemakers and producers, his first projects saw quick success with the wines becoming standard bearers for their respective regions. This was the case with Viña Nora (Rías Baixas), Naia (Rueda), Cénit (Zamora) and Mano a Mano (Castilla-La Mancha). The small group rapidly drew the attention of investors, so following the acquisition by Avante Selecta (Grupo Inveravante); Ordóñez repeated the formula with the Gil family from Jumilla in Southeast Spain. This cooperation eventually broke up, assets were divided and Jorge started over again. However, his long-standing partnership with the San Martín family from Bodegas Borsao in Campo de Borja (Aragón) remains in the Alto Moncayo state-of-the-art project. It was set up in 2002 with the help of Australian winemaker Chris Ringland.
At present Grupo Jorge Ordóñez comprises the following projects: Avancia (Valdeorras, Galicia), La Caña (Rías Baixas, Galicia), Jorge Ordóñez (Toro y Rueda, Castilla y León), Breca (Calatayud, Aragón) and Jorge Ordóñez & Co. (Málaga, Andalucía).
The extremely wide portfolio combines entry-level wines aimed at showing the character of particular grape varieties or wine regions, and premium reds and whites that aim to occupy the top positions in their respective areas. Reds have traditionally displayed richness and power with new oak playing a leading role in winemaking. Probably the most refined examples are to be found in whites with outstanding wines in the two Galician wineries, Rueda and Málaga.
The wines from Málaga are particularly noteworthy due to the contribution of Austrian producer Alois Kracher and, following his death, his son Gerhard. Instead of sun-drying grapes, as is traditional in the area, Kracher decided to dehydrate indoors, thus the wines show a different style with higher, more vibrant acidity. The range starts with late-harvest sweet wines with sugar levels increasing in those examples exclusively made with dehydrated grapes up to the extremely concentrated, Tokaji-inspired Esencia with just 4% alcohol and sugar ranging from 400 to 600gr. The latter style is not allowed under the DO Málaga appellation.
Ordóñez has helped to spread the word about this fascinating area, where artisan grape growing is a must, thanks to the development of new wine categories. While the outstanding Botani (€12.5 in Spain) has set a standard for dry whites made from Moscatel, its Charmant-method sparkling represents a great example of a good quality commercial wine with some residual sugar. The Botani range is completed with a Garnacha red made in a lighter style than those from Calatayud.