William Hill Estate Winery Napa Valley Chardonnay 2014

Gold-yellow color; apple, pear on the nose; yellow and green apple, pineapple, lime, citrus on the palate.

Medium-light in the mouth, hint of complexity from time on the lees, small pad of butter from malolactic fermentation, some oak from time in new and used American oak. OK acidity (3.70 pH). This is straightforward chard without a standout element to please or displease. You will not go crazy in love; you will not vow never to taste again.

The William Hill Estate Winery was founded by vineyard developer William Hill in 1976 on a 200-acre site at the foot of Atlas Peak on the Silverado Bench in southern Napa. The location at the foot of Atlas Peak and the Vaca Mountains means the soils are thin, rocky, and do not have the nutrient abundance found in the Napa Valley floor. This is a good thing for a grape farmer because it forces the vines to struggle for water and results in smaller berries with intense color and flavor.

Today, William Hill is part of the Gallo portfolio. The winemaker is Mark Williams, son of a UC Davis viticulture professor and veteran of Bridlewood Estate Winery in Santa Barbara and Louis M. Martini in St. Helena. In an interview on the Napa Valley Vintners website, Williams opined on the most rewarding part of his work: “There are few products in this world that mature like wine. Starting in the vineyard and tasting the grapes, determining extraction during fermentation, the oak for aging, and then tasting it with family and friends long after it has bottled is absolutely fascinating. It reminds me of raising children and watching them grow over the years.” Indeed.

William Hill Estate Winery Napa Valley Chardonnay 2014 is a safe, albeit stolid, entry-level effort into the $20-plus world of chardonnay. $21-27

William Hill Estate Winery website

Other photos: William Hill Estate winery, winemaker Mark Williams

William Hill Estate Winery Napa Valley Chardonnay 2014
William Hill Estate winery
William Hill winemaker Mark Williams