Posh; now there's a word that has lost a great deal of meaning in our modern computerized, electrified and button pushing world.

It is also a word that must be applied to the wines under “The Hilt” label.

The Hilt” specializes in making wine from the Burgundian grapes, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

This specialization has resulted in wines that go far beyond most of what is currently coming out of California today.

I will even say that in my opinion, The Hilt wines are easily the equal of the greatest of the great out of Burgundy France.

These are incredible wines that are more of an excursion into the realm of fine wines than a beverage.

The Hilt 2017 Estate Chardonnay ($45). For years I have been an active member of the ABC, the Anything But Chardonnay Club. Chardonnay is a white wine that became very popular at the turn of the century and resulted in a host of really dull and uninteresting versions of the variety permeating the marketplace. There was a time that for weeks I could not find a Chardonnay that I could recommend to my readers and several of those that I did write about I did so with some trepidation. The Hilt 2017 Estate Chardonnay is an old fashioned Chardonnay; one in which the grapes and not the winemaker determine the direction of the final product. The flavor and aroma are expansive and there is oak there, but not too much, as is often the case or not too little but what seems to be just the right amount. To quote old time California winemaker Lois Martini, “if you can smell oak or taste oak, it’s too much oak.” Apricot and fig are the most pronounced flavors with other white fruit flavors joining in and are enhanced by an enticing flintiness in the background. These all carry over to the finish, which is long, creamy and very complex. Few, if any American Chardonnay's can even come close to the intensity and flavor of this wine. On a scale of 1-10, I give this wine a 124. If you believe that I went a little overboard in my admiration for this Chardonnay, read on, there are two incredible Pinot Noirs coming up next.

The Hilt 2016 The Vanguard Pinot Noir ($70). This wine offers everything that makes for a great Pinot Noir; an inviting ruby color, a firm body, a captivating aroma, a positive and definable flavor and a long, enduring finish, all wrapped in a smooth, velvet-like robe. The aroma displays rose petals, black cherry, dried tobacco, orange, sage, pomegranate and white pepper. The flavor is about as classical as it can get; black cherry, spice and a subtle hint of truffles. All of these carry over to the finish where they linger on the palate for a very long time. Not only is this a great Pinot Noir, but it reconfirms my belief that outstanding Pinot Noir wines can be made in the United States.

The Hilt 2017 Estate Pinot Noir ($45). The Hilt 2017 Estate Pinot Noir is not a lesser wine than the Vanguard but rather a different rendition of a familiar theme. The first thing that caught my attention was the color, which is much darker than most California Pinot Noirs. Next, I found the aroma and the flavor to be extremely complex and multi-layered. The aroma is an ever changing display of black cherry, blackberry and plum with a hint of flintiness in the background. The flavor is just as expansive and explosive as is the aroma and concentrates on plum, blackberry, and boysenberry with oak in the background. To describe the finish would be just gilding the lily. What I did find was a hint of incense, a feature that I believed was only to be found in the better French Burgundies and never before detected in a California wine. This is a grand wine, in both meanings of the term; it is big and it is regal.

Editor’s note: The prices listed in this column reflect the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

Bennet Bodenstein is a wine enthusiast and book author whose column appears in publications throughout the country.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.