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The Hilt The Old Guard Pinot Noir 2010

  • RP92
750ML / 14.2% ABV
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750ML / 14.2% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Slower to release its charm than its more extroverted Vanguard counterpart, the secretive and mysterious Old Guard begins to show its true colors after a few hours in the decanter. Delicate floral aromas are quickly joined by savory notes from the old vines. Raspberry, mint and cherry aromas mingle with smoked meat, tobacco, cracked pepper and fresh mushroom. It maintains a delicacy and elegance that shines through on the palate. The texture is reminiscent of velvet with sweet red fruit and a welcome hint of complex cured meat and spice. It remains subtle for all of its power and weight and finishes with lingering notes of tart cherry and baking spice. The tightly coiled structure of this wine should certainly reward patience in the cellar.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 92
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2010 Pinot Noir Old Guard is gorgeous. Layers of dark red fruit come together beautifully as the wine takes shape in the glass. A firm, structured frame provides the backdrop for an expressive core of dark cherries, mint, flowers and licorice. A creamy, gracious finish leaves a lasting impression. In 2010, the Old Guard shines. The 2010 was made entirely with Sanford & Benedict fruit, as the vintage proved too difficult for the Bien Nacido fruit.
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The Hilt

The Hilt

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The Hilt , California
The Hilt champions pinot noir and chardonnay from the climate margins of California's coastal winegrowing regions—Santa Barbara County's Sta. Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley AVA's prominent among them.The philosophy of "growing in the margins" propels winegrowers to employ practices that enable grapes to show full transparency of site—key to The Hilt's philosophy. Within this framework, The Hilt ferments two distinct styles of wine-The Old Guard and The Vanguard. The former relies on elegant clonal selections planted on poorer soils along with minimalist cellar methods to produce a wine with minerality and structure at its fore. The latter is sourced from more robust clones planted on slightly richer soils revealing a wine with balance, power and fruit driven qualities.

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.

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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.

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One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).

Tasting Notes for Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a dry red wine, typically diominated by red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles showing black plum and more delicate styles of Pinot giving citrus qualities. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age Pinot Noir can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice and dried fruit.

Perfect Food Pairings for Pinot Noir

Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of salmon or texture of tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.

Sommelier Secrets for Pinot Noir

For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay, not Pinot noir. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Village or Cru level wines. So "red Burgundy" still necessarily refers to Pinot noir.

DOB139756_2010 Item# 139756

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