The Hilt Estate Chardonnay 2020, Sta. Rita Hills, California

The unobstructed, ocean facing east-west valley known as Sta. Rita Hills Valley is a complex AVA. One could divide it into four quadrants: northern-facing, southern-facing, close to the ocean, and further inland from the ocean. With such a frame, The Hilt’s favorite vineyards are in the northern-facing, closest to the ocean, windswept quadrant. These sites are the worst place for a grape grower, but the best ones for a winemaker. Rancho Salsipuedes, where The Hilt wines make their home, provides vineyards planted on land nearly 13 unobstructed miles from the ocean on the west. This unique, large and sprawling property offers a range of altitudes, aspects, soil types, and microclimates, giving winemaker Matt Dees a patchwork of vineyard parcels from which to select grapes and create wines with distinctive styles. the land has poor soils that force vines to dig deep; there are powerful, whipping winds and a cold maritime climate that allow grapes on the property to ripen slowly and retain acidity despite the warm daytime sun; and the vines on the property are low in vigor, allowing them to produce low yields of concentrated, complex grapes. It is with these three important components – poor soils, whipping winds and a cool maritime climate along with low vigor vines – that Salsipuedes defines itself in the Sta. Rita Hills. The Estate wines are defined by the fruit and flavors of the little southwestern corner of the Sta. Rita Hills. They speak of the nuances and complexities of their properties as a whole. These wines take into account the many aspects, clones, soil types, and other properties of the estate. 2019 Chardonnay: Vibrant, toasty, and reserved. Fresh pineapple. Lemon curd with powdered sugar lift. Lithe and graceful. Exotic and saline. Like oyster brine. Long life ahead. Remains taut and reserved with a fine level of soft and supple fruit. Loquat, green apple, chamomile tea, ginger, lime pith and agave. Absolute finesse with a touch of the raw energy from the cold Pacific winds. A wine of place and of attitude. Cold and steely with an undeniable touch of warmth, generosity, and overall pleasure.