2015 The Hilt "Old Guard" Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

SKU #1353647 96 points Vinous

 The Hilt's 2015 Pinot Noir Old Guard is a big, powerful wine that won't be ready to drink for at least a few years. Ample and dramatic in build, the 2015 exudes richness. A host of red-toned fruit, sage, mint and rose petal notes get an extra kick of aromatic lift from the whole clusters. The 2015 finishes with great focus and intensity especially for the year. This is a remarkable wine in every way. The 2015 is mostly Sanford & Benedict, with some fruit from Radian. 96+ points. (AG)  (9/2017)

94 points Jeb Dunnuck

 The Old Guard cuvée always shows an earthier character, and the 2015 Pinot Noir Old Guard is no exception. Underbrush, herbs, forest floor and black tea notes are all supported by plenty of black cherry and currant fruit. Medium to full-bodied, concentrated and structured, with lots of ripe tannin, it needs hidden in the back of the cellar for 7-8 years. 94+ points.  (8/2017)

93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Pale to medium ruby-purple in color, the 2015 Pinot Noir Old Guard has pronounced black cherries, black raspberries and anise on the nose, with a stems-inspired, herbal undercurrent, lending plenty of spice box and savory notions. Medium-bodied and led by a structure of chewy tannins and lively acidity, it has a great core of earthy/savory layers and finishes on a peppery note. 93+ points. (LPB)  (9/2017)

93 points Wine Enthusiast

 There's a damp-forest-floor quality of pine needles, turned earth, moss and exotic wood smoke to the nose of this bottling, which gives depth to the black-raspberry and caramel aromas. A zippy acidity carries from the front to back of the sip, where more forest-like flavors of juniper and bay leaf meet with hickory and boysenberry. The firm structure ensures ageability. (MK)  (5/2018)

K&L Notes

Antonio Galloni of Vinous Media on The Hilt Winemaker Matt Dees: "Matt Dees and his team are doing brilliant work at The Hilt. Dees is arguably the single most talented and versatile young winemaker in Santa Barbara, and perhaps California, today."

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Price: $59.95

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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.

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.


- 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 RhĂ´ne blends.