Hill Wine Co. 2012 Black Dog series Chardonnay

Napa Valley, CA
“95% organic”; 13.9% ABV
$6 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 30 Sept

JeffHill_2012_ChardonnayThis is a pretty nice wine for the money.  Although it is a Napa Chardonnay, a species I have often disdained, this is not a heavy, buttery, oaky wine.  It’s a little disjointed at first, but it smooths out and integrates pretty quickly after opening.  Then it shows elegant flavors of ripe yellow apple, pear, lower-acid lemon, floral vanilla, and in the finish, a little yellow peach and perhaps a touch more oak than I would prefer.  The body is medium full, not overwhelming.

The second night, the wine is a little lighter in body and more delicate and “liquidy,” with the flavors maybe a little less intense but otherwise much the same.  Still quite nice.  On both nights, I preferred it a bit warmed from fridge temperature, to emphasize the fruit over the acid.  If you’re in the Anything But Chardonnay club, you may not like this wine, as I thought it was quite typical of the California version, but if not, I think it’s good for the money.


11 thoughts on “Hill Wine Co. 2012 Black Dog series Chardonnay

  1. Michelle B

    I really found nothing ripe in this wine, which is dominated by lime and pithy citrus flavors. I consider it drinkable but certainly not distinguishable as a Chardonnay in a blind tasting. Very little noticeable oak. Someone seeking a varietally correct Chardonnay, oaked or not, would be disappointed in this wine. Consumed from refrigerator cold to near room temperature.

    1. BargainWhine Post author

      Hi Michelle and thanks for sharing your description of this wine. I have no explanation for the large difference in our experiences of it. In the past, I think we have usually agreed.

  2. Alan Reinke

    I did not like this wine at all. Very little nose. Very little taste. No fruit. The first few minutes in the glass there is a vaguely chemical taste to the wine. Thankfully that goes away, but what is left is light and relatively tasteless. I’m not a fan of over-oaked California and Aussie chardonnays, but this wine doesn’t do it for me. BTW, if you are in the market for a chardonnay at around this price point, Trader Joe has a “Petit Reserve” chardonnay under their own label which is excellent. Good fruit. Not too much oak.

  3. seedboy

    There are a few things that I eat that are complimented by chardonnay that is fruitier than, say, Chablis would be. One example is steamed artichokes, which I serve with a mixture of one third mustard and two thirds mayo. So I like to have a few bottles of low oak Calif chard around.

    1. lim13

      Thanks, SB. Just wanted to understand your comment a little better. I actually enjoy unoaked Chards best of the variety, but of course I’m a card carrying member of the ABC club.

    2. Don Bevins

      Rocklin has both the 2012 and 2011 Hill chardonnays. The 2011 was a gold medal winner at San Francisco judging. I have not gotten around to either yet but tonight might be good. Hopefully there will not be viognier blended in which I seem to be detecting in a lot of GO whites these days. Other on line sites are showing Hill cabernets now so maybe those will be coming along soon.

      1. seedboy

        The Oakland store has an Oakville cab for $16.99. I’ve been in a mess of stores since these wines appeared and the only Hill wines I’ve seen are:
        3 pinots: Mt Veeder, Carneros, Napa
        2 Chards, 2011 and 2012
        1 Sauv Blanc
        1 Cab.

  4. Seedboy

    I like this wine a lot. No overt oak. Nice balance. It is clearly a California chard, though. I’ve bought a few bottles because one needs these wines.


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