2014 The Hilt "Vanguard" Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

SKU #1351565 95 points Vinous

 The 2014 Pinot Noir Vanguard is deep and implosive, naturally within the Hilt's generally restrained style. Plum, sweet cherry, spice and menthol are all fused together in a pliant, textured Pinot loaded with textural nuance. Even with its forward fruit, the 2014 has quite a bit of underlying structure and tannin. This is one of the unqualified successes of the year in the Sta. Rita Hills. In 2014, the Vanguard is 100% Mt. Eden clone Pinot from Sanford & Benedict, done with fully destemmed fruit and aged in 45% new French oak.

93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 More plush, with gorgeous black raspberry, toasted spice, dried flowers and a touch of licorice, the 2014 Pinot Noir Vanguard hits the palate with gorgeous fruit, a rounded, supple texture and present, yet ripe tannin. It's much more approachable than the Old Guard, but I suspect it will evolve just as nicely.

K&L Notes

Winemaker's Notes: "Endowed with a nose that is brooding, dark and seductive. Floral with strong notes of black plum and black tea. Palate surprises with its graceful attack. Crunchy and herbal with sumptuous blackberry and English Breakfast tea. Slides across the palate with fruit and smoke. Refined and gentle tannins on the tongue are ushered out by a gentle push of sweet red fruit. A ponderous wine with elegance and so many dimensions. Full of pleasure immediately out of the bottle. Simple equation: bright sunshine, exposed ridgelines, rocky soils = powerful and silky fruit with delicious and chewy tannin. Suave and seductive as only Vanguard Pinot Noir can be."

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Varietal:

Pinot Noir

- One of France's most legendary grapes and the grape that earned Burgundy its reputation. The parent of varietals like Pinot Gris/Grigio and Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir is blue to violet to indigo in color with relatively thin skins, and it is said to have been cultivated in France for more than 2,000 years. At its best, Pinot Noir creates elegant wines that are filled with primary red fruit aromas and flavors while young, revealing with an array of secondary characteristics like earth, smoke, violet, truffle and game with age. The varietal is also known, perhaps better than any, for its ability to translate terroir, or a sense of place. While the best Pinot Noir still comes from Burgundy, it is being produced with increasing success in cooler climates around the world. In France, it is part of the trifecta of grapes that can go into Champagne, and it is also grown in Alsace, Irancy, Jura, Savoie, Lorraine and Sancerre. Outside of France it is produced under the names Pinot Nero and Blauburgunder in Italy's mountainous regions, as Spätburgunder in Germany and as Blauburgunder in Austria. In the US, Pinot Noir has found suitable growing conditions in the cooler parts of California, including Carneros, the Russian River Valley, the Anderson Valley, the Sonoma Coast, Monterey County, the Santa Lucia Highlands and Santa Barbara County, as well as in Oregon's Willamette Valley. In recent years, New Zealand has demonstrated its ability to interpret this hard-to-grow varietal, with successful bottlings coming from careful and attentive growers in Central Otago, Martinborough and Canterbury. Chile is also an up-and-coming region for Pinot Noir, creating fresh, fruit-forward, early-drinking and affordable Pinots from the coastal Casablanca Valley and the Limari Valley.
Country:

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world.
Sub-Region:

California

- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year.
Specific Appellation:

Santa Maria/Santa Barbara

- Santa Maria and Santa Ynez make up the two AVAs of Santa Barbara County, an area known for its natural beauty and temperate climate. The best grape-growing areas, however, are located on the very coastal reaches of these two appellations, and are cooled by ever-present fog and ocean breezes (it is even cooler and foggier here than Carneros!). As expected, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir thrive while the more inland zones lay claim to Bordeaux varietals and some Rhône blends.