The Hilt The Old Guard Chardonnay 2016
Honey, guava, lemon zest and apricot. Palate reminiscent of a juicy nectarine, burstingwith succulent fruit and lively acidity. Mouthwatering. Unadorned by oak, thiswine shines with freshness and focus, depth and balance.
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The 2016 Chardonnay Old Guard was aged 11 months in neutral oak and finished with six months in stainless steel. It features scents of spiced peach cobbler, lime peel, petrichor, slivered almonds, quince and chamomile—this is much more open and giving than its 2017 counterpart. It's light to medium-bodied, tensile and mineral-driven in the mouth with tangy acidity and a long finish. This still has so much life ahead of it. 405 cases were made.
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.