The Hilt’s 3,600-acre estate lies near the Pacific in the east-west gash that is the Sta. Rita Hills. The 100 acres each of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are planted from 400 to 700 feet of elevation on rolling terrain carpeted with clay or sea fossils. The vines are continuously washed with cool ocean winds and fog.
The Hilt’s 2017 vintage Chardonnay is the first white bottling from this site. The wine was raised in French oak, about half new, with a small portion in stainless steel barrels. It’s flaxen-hued, shiny, and its fragrance suggests citrus peels and lemon thyme. The palate is silky, lemony with a suggestion of pineapple or mango, expansive but with a taut and bracing finish. Delicious now, brisk and well-integrated, but the wine’s armature of acidity has set it up for a few years of aging. I’d like to try that.
2017 The Hilt Estate Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills
13.2% abv | $45 (sample); 1,400 cases made