Hillcrest is one of the Yarra’s first ‘new’ vineyards – planted in 1970 at the beginning of the Victorian wine revival. Production is tiny – little more than 1000 dozen each year in total – and while Hillcrest keeps a low profile it belongs in the same company as Mount Mary, Yarra Yering, Yeringberg and the like. The ‘Village’ label denotes an ‘entry-level’ wine, the name an indication of the Burgundian approach owners David and Tanya Bryant take to Chardonnay (and Pinot Noir). Above the Village, labels are the ‘Premium’ and ‘Reserve’ ranges. From 1999 until 2005 the wines were made by Phillip Jones, of Bass Phillip, but since then winemaking has been in the hands of the Bryants themselves.
The Hillcrest style is clearly influenced by Old World viticulture and winemaking, with the added richness that is a distinctive feature of Australian wines. Working with some of the Yarra’s oldest vines on an elevated 8ha site in the Woori Yallock sub-region enables the Bryants to make wines with excellent structure, length and texture. The site provides great fragrance, rich fruit with solid tannin structure and excellent natural acid for ageing. Only wild yeasts are used and under no circumstances are tannins or acid added. The wines are natural expressions of their terroir and vintage with oak seen as a background element to enhance structure. Only French oak (mostly Francois Freres) is used with around one-third new each year, and another third one year old.