31 Phillip Road, Woori Yallock, Victoria, Australia
Visited 19th July 2008
Sometimes life just tumbles into place. Friday night dinner with mates at the Healesville Hotel meant I was in the perfect location to swing past Woori Yallock and Hillcrest Saturday morning. Run by David and Tanya Bryant, Hillcrest is a small winery that has gained a big reputation for producing top quality Yarra Valley wines. Only open to the public once a year they put on an annual retrospective tasting where every past vintage of every wine is opened.
This was perhaps the series of wines I found most interesting. Ranging from 2002 to 2007 all the wines showed excellent elegance, finesse and class. I was particularly with both the 2005 and 2006 Premium Chardonnays and the 2003 Estate Chardonnay. I suppose what impressed me the most was the ability of these wines to age gracefully; retaining their elegance and complexity, yet remaining clean and drinkable.
The range of Pinot Noir at Hillcrest stretch back to 2001 and it was interesting to try them side-by-side. Perhaps with the exception of the 2002 all the wines were holding up well, with the intensity of the fruit and tannins suggesting long futures. The Estate Pinot Noir 2003 won me over with its rich fruit, but my favourite was the delicious herbs, cherry and game flavours of the awesome Estate Pinot Noir 2006 (which I preferred to the higher priced 'Premium' and 'Reserve' wines). Structured, rich and multi-layered Hillcrest makes Pinot Noir as it should be.
I'm not sure if I prefer Yarra Valley Pinot or Cabernet, but the region does both bloody well. The first realise of Hillcrest Cabernet was 2003 and all five vintages were still fresh and vibrant. My favourite was the Premium Cabernet 2005. Though it had plenty of delicious dark fruit flavour, it wasn't a massive over-bearing monster, but more a thing of beauty and balance; it was a classic wine where acid, fruit and tannin met in harmonious bliss. Yet again an impressive line-up of wine.
The Hillcrest Open Day was a fantastic opportunity; being able to see how top quality Yarra Valley wines age was a fascinating and informative experience. The wines themselves were outstanding and the chance to chat to the enthusiastic David Bryant put the whole experience into perspective. Though it's only open one day a year the Hillcrest winery is certainly worth a visit.
Visit winery website.