2018 Hill Family Estate Reserve Chardonnay

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The Winery and Background

In 1981, Doug and Darci Hill found their home on an acre of land at the northern edge of Yountville. They raised vegetables and fruits used in local restaurants. In 2001, Hill Family Estate produced their first wine a Merlot. Today they have at their disposal 12 different vineyards from which to choose and select the best quality fruit for their wines. Today the Hill Family owns 120 acres of vineyards focusing primarily on Atlas Peak, Carneros and Oak Knoll sub-AVAs.

Their production, depending on the year, ranges from 9,000 to 12,000 cases a year. Their white wines include Albariño, Sauvignon Blanc’s (different regions), Chardonnay and a late harvest white wine. The red wines include an array of wines of Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah, Blends, and Cabernet Sauvignon’s from various areas in Napa Valley. They also have several Rosés, sparkling and a Pet Nat. Alison Doran joined the Family Estate team on their inaugural launch in 2001 and continues to be their winemaker.

I first met Ryan Hill, their son, and his wife at a Castlewood CC winemaker’s dinner and enjoyed their wines 15 years ago. Subsequently, Hill Family Estate was featured last year, with Ryan again at a winemaker’s dinner at The Golf Club of Copper Valley (Verona18 Restaurant) and the wines, are still excellent.

The Wine – 2018 Hill Family Estate Chardonnay Reserve

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

A creamy rich 2018 Reserve Chardonnay with a shimmering golden color and heavy viscosity on the eyes. On the nose, a vanilla and light oak were present. On the palate, toasted hazelnut and brioche were noted along with caramel. The most notable flavor was the fresh golden apples. The finish was especially long for a Chardonnay with such bold fruit notes. The Chardonnay comes from the American Canyon region with the cooling winds effects of San Francisco Bay.

The wine was barrel fermented staying in French oak barrels for eight months. 90% of the wine went through malolactic fermentation and they continuously stirred the lees every two weeks to increase the wines depth and texture to produce a mouth filling experience.  Their current release is the 2019 and is listed on their website for $65/bottle.

The Food and Wine Pairing

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

For dinner this wine was served to go with a chicken Mexican salad this evening. The chicken was baked with various spices including mesquite seasoning and Applewood smoked salt and then sliced. Served on a bed of iceberg lettuce, then the slices of chicken, covered with shredded Jalapeño Jack cheese, chopped purple onions, quartered cherry tomatoes and a smoky chipotle salsa. Garnished with corn tortilla chips and black beans. The spiciness of the salad welcomed the fruity Chardonnay with open arms and provided a wonderful food pairing.






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