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Celebrated Australian winemaker Tony Jordan dies

Dr Tony Jordan, a widely-respected and influential figure in the Australian wine industry and who pioneered LVMH’s fine wine project in the Himalayas, has died after a short battle with cancer.

Tony passed away after a short battle with mesothelioma, an extremely rare but aggressive form of cancer.

Following a PhD in Chemical Physics, Tony began his career in the wine industry in 1974 as a lecturer in Physical Chemistry and Wine Science at Riverina College (now the Charles Sturt University).

Having developed the oenology course there alongside Don Lester and also brought Brian Croser on board, Tony stopped lecturing in 1978 and founded consultancy group Oenotec with Croser.

In 1985 Moët Hennessy selected Oenotec to help find it a site in Australia for its Domaine Chandon project and then invited Tony to become managing director of the fledgling winery in the Yarra Valley in 1987.

He was then made CEO of Cape Mentelle, Chandon and Cloudy Bay in 2003, as well as consulting at the Chandon wineries worldwide.

Becoming a particular authority on sparkling wine, Tony was a well-known regular on the judging circuit and worked closely with Tom Stevenson and Essi Avellan MW at the Champagne and Sparkling Wine Championships.

Although he technically retired from Domaine Chandon in 2008 – whereupon he restarted Oenotec and began some consulting again – he was the man chosen by Moët Hennessy’s CEO, Christophe Navarre, to explore options for a fine wine project in China.

Ignoring the main Chinese regions of Ningxia (where there is a Domaine Chandon) and Xinjiang, Tony eventually made his way to Yunnan in the foothills of the Himalayas.

There he found not only conditions that reminded him of Bordeaux but also the remnants of a wholly forgotten series of vineyards planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc which had been introduced by French missionaries in the 1800s.

It was here that he recommended Moët create its new estate which resulted in the creation of the ‘Ao Yun’ label, the first vintage of which (the 2013) was released in 2016.

Awarded the Order of Australia medal for his contribution to the wine industry, in June of this year he was awarded a life membership of the Australian Wine Industry by Australian Grape & Wine.

He was made a fellow of the Australian Society for Viticulture & Oenology and also earlier this year Wine Australia established an award in his honour with an annual grant to the most outstanding Wine Australia PhD scholarship applicant.

Wine Australia’s chairman, Brian Walsh, commented at the time: “Tony has been a determined advocate for the advancement of Australian wine and his mentoring of our community has had a deep and enduring impact. We celebrate his leadership in this perpetual award.

“Dr Jordan was crucial to the establishment of the wine science program at Charles Sturt University in the 1970s, influencing modern Australian wine practices.

“He has chaired Australian wine shows and judged shows internationally, he is a former president of the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology and the Yarra Valley Wine Growers Association, and was a board member of the Wine Australia Corporation for six years.”

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