2015 The Hilt "Vanguard" Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay

SKU #1353649 95 points Jeb Dunnuck

 The 2015 Chardonnay Vanguard comes from slightly younger vines and sees more new oak (although it still seems mostly neutral barrels). This light to medium gold colored Chardonnay offers terrific notes of citrus, under ripe pineapple, salty minerality and white flowers. It's concentrated and textured, yet racy and vibrant, with bright acidity. It really needs 5-6 years of bottle age and is going to have two decades of longevity.  (8/2017)

95 points Wine Enthusiast

 0 Very tightly wound on the nose, this impressive bottling by Matt Dees of Jonata fame starts with fresh and seabreeze-like aromas, from lime zest and pink lemonade to wet slate and cool steel. The sip is energetic and racy like a classic Chablis, showing lemon balm, honeysuckle and well integrated oak across a texturally compelling platform. (MK)  (5/2018)

94 points Vinous

 The 2015 Chardonnay Vanguard is powerful, dense and voluptuous, with all of the raciness of the vintage on full display. Apricot, honey, chamomile, dried flowers, new oak and hint of butter add notable flavor complexity. Viscous and oily on the palate, but in the midweight style that is typical of these wines, the Vanguard is just as impressive from bottle as it was last year from barrel. Fruit sources are Sanford & Benedict, Bentrock, Solomon Hills, Bien Nacido and Radian. (AG)  (9/2017)

92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 2015 Chardonnay Vanguard delivers a wonderfully spicy nose of white pepper, coriander seed, ginger and anise over a core of white peaches and lemon curd. Medium-bodied, with a great intensity of stone fruit and citrus layers, it has a lively acid line and finishes with those spices coming through. (LPB)  (9/2017)

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: $54.95

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- It's hard to believe that up until about 30 years ago, this extremely popular varietal hid behind the veil of geographical names like Chablis and Puligny-Montrachet. Now grown all over the world and bottled by its varietal name, Chardonnay has achieved a level of branding unlike any other wine. Surprisingly, though, what you get when you buy Chardonnay can differ greatly from country to country and even within one country, depending on the climate where it's grown and how it is vinified and aged. From fresh, crisp and minerally with apple and lemon notes to rich and buttery with tropical fruit overtones, Chardonnay runs the gamut. In France's Burgundy, Chardonnay is the source of the prized wines of Chablis, Corton-Charlemagne, Mâcon, Meursault and Montrachet. It also the foundation of exceptional Champagne, where it is blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier or vinified on its own into Blanc de Blancs. It is also extremely popular in California, and is gaining popularity in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain and South Africa.

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 Rhône blends.