2018 Hilt Estate Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills


Hilt set the bar high with this vibrant and pure, red-fruit driven wine that glides across the palate like silk. The structure is unmatched with bright red berries, blood orange and impossibly fine tannins, leaving you with a perfectly balanced finish. The bouquet intrigues with decidedly savory notes of incense, black tea and green peppercorn alongside the wild red berries and blood orange. A little time and air releases notes of dried sage, rosemary and menthol. That palate is pure and seamless with pomegranate juiciness. The cold, windy vineyards leave their mark in the focused attack and persistent finish. Impossibly fine tannins build the solid Hilt structure.

Matt Dees is an unconventional winemaker, which aligns perfectly with the unconventional AVA at his fingertips. You can find The Hilt in the southwestern corner of the Sta. Rita Hills Valley, where the dramatic influence of the nearby ocean presents itself as punishing winds. As they say, “These sites are the worst lace for a grape grower, but the best ones for a winemaker.” Rancho Salsipuedes, where Hilt Wines begin, is a unique, sprawling property with a range of altitudes, soil types, and microclimates. For the Estate wines, Matt Dees pulls from the full patchwork to craft “the most complete wines in our portfolio.” In these wines, you can experience the nuances and complexities of the property as a whole, from the poor soils to the whipping winds.

Pinot Noir
Matt Dees
11 months
Oak Treatment:
8% New French oak, 92% neutral Franch oak
Santa Rita Hills
Alcohol %:
Score Vinous:
SKU #:
750 ml Bottle


A bright, effusive wine, the 2018 Pinot Noir Estate offers up an explosion of red berry fruit, spice and floral notes. Bright acids keep the flavors wonderfully vivid. Readers will find so much to like in this mid-weight, super-expressive Pinot from The Hilt. I loved it.


Jeb Dunnuck

The 2018 Pinot Noir Estate is equally brilliant, offering a vivid ruby/purple hue as well as loads of raspberry and tart cherry fruits, notes of violets and spice, medium-bodied richness, silky tannins, and a great finish. Drink it any time over the coming 4-5 years. I suspect it will keep even longer.