The Hilt The Old Guard Chardonnay 2013
Classic Old Guard nose driven by tropical and exotic notes of lime, cinnamon, dried pineapple and candied ginger. Complex hints of gunsmoke reduction alongside aromas of fresh baked brioche with almonds. Dense and soft on palate with substantial vigor. Finishes with bright acidity on the sides of the tongue and lingering echoes of fresh baked goods and tart green apples. Generous, supple and soft. A pillow of fruit with mouthwatering acidity. Ripe stone fruit pushes past the sparkle of acidity on the lengthy finish.oyster shell brininess on finish
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Slightly more chiseled and energetic than the Vanguard (I actually prefer the aromatics on the Vanguard), the 2013 Chardonnay Old Guard offers lots of salty minerality in its citrus blossom, crushed rock and stone fruit-driven bouquet. Medium-bodied, tight, taut and focused on the palate, with bright acidity that stays nicely integrated, it's another classy and impeccably made Chardonnay from this team to drink over the coming decade. This comes from the oldest vines of the Sanford & Benedict Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills and the Solomon Hills Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley and spent 11 months in all neutral oak barrels.
There are three things critical to the understanding of transparent varieties such as chardonnay and pinot noir: an understanding of terroir (dirt/climate foremost among them), an attuned sense of stylistic intention and deft touch in the cellar. Armed with a degree in Soil Science from the University of Vermont, The Hilt's winemaker, Matt Dees' approach is grounded in the vineyard first and foremost. His attention to the subtle differences found between chardonnay and pinot noir due to clonal selections and site informs the sides of The Hilt's philosophy. And last but not least, Matt's fine hand with the wines in the cellar allows the precise expression of both Old Guard characteristics and Vanguard elements to emerge.
When Matt's not exploring this duality in chardonnay and pinot noir, he can be found making the wines for its sister winery—Jonata.
As hinted at in the name, The Hilt goes "all the way" in its quest for expression and quality; nothing is held back in terms of effort.
With a dry and mild climate cooled significantly by moist ocean fog and breezes, Santa Barbara County is a grape-grower’s dream. Part of the larger Central Coast appellation, Santa Barbara is home to Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley. The conditions here provide an opportunity for nearly effortless production of high-quality cool-climate wines. This is also the site of the 2004 film Sideways, which caused Pinot Noir’s popularity to skyrocket and brought new acclaim to the region.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the stars of Santa Barbara, producing wines marked by racy acidity. Crisp Sauvignon Blanc and savory Syrah are also important. The region is home to many young and enthusiastic winemakers eager to experiment with less common varieties including Chenin Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Trousseau Gris, Gamay and Cabernet Franc, making it an exciting area to watch.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.