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This is the ‘entry level’ Chardonnay, grown on the younger vines planted on the Hillcrest estate back in 2000 and 2005.
It took more than 5 years for this exemplary vineyard to produce a crop, but it was worth the wait. Dry grown and unfertilised, the patience of David and Tanya Bryant has paid dividends, the intensity of this relatively young vine fruit is simply outstanding.
The 2015 Village Chardonnay is richly flavoured and packed with charisma. Gary Walsh commenting “Gee, I like this wine, but I’d give it a year to settle into bottle.” in his 93+ point review.
Value for money wise, this is one of the most impressive Chardonnays in the Yarra Valley.
What It Tastes Like
“Golden colour. Nectarine, menthol, cedar, oatmeal and roast honey chicken. Medium weight, but with an intensity of an almost savage nature, firm acidity, stonefruit and oranges, chalk dust, and slighly raw-edged finish of excellent length. Gee, I like this wine, but I’d give it a year to settle into bottle.” - Gary Walsh (The Wine Front)
93+ points. “Golden colour. Nectarine, menthol, cedar, oatmeal and roast honey chicken. Medium weight, but with an intensity of an almost savage nature, firm acidity, stonefruit and oranges, chalk dust, and slightly raw-edged finish of excellent length. Gee, I like this wine, but I’d give it a year to settle into bottle.”
- Gary Walsh (The Wine Front)
Hillcrest is located in the heart of Melbourne’s picturesque Yarra Valley, one of Australia’s oldest wine regions. Planted in 1970, it was one of the pioneers in the re-establishment of the Valley, and it is this vineyard which provides the old-vine resource from which the rare Reserve, Premium and Estate wines are made.
Purchased in 1999, the neglected 44-year old vineyard was re-trellised to allow for better canopy management. Now farmed along organic principles, herbicides, pesticides, fertilisers and other systemic spraying have been eliminated.
On the southern side of the Yarra Valley, the vineyard benefits from higher elevation and a cooler climate than the valley floor. The soils are low in fertility yet complex in structure. A thin layer of grey gravel top-soil sits over a complex yellow-grey clay loam, which changes in colour (to red/brown) and mineral content as the depth increases.
The entire vineyard is unirrigated and the vines must work to support themselves. Recent drought conditions caused little disturbance at Hillcrest as the older vines, having established their own deep root systems over 40 years, drew on moisture deep within the ground to sustain themselves. The result continues to be exquisitely concentrated and healthy fruit.
Typically the 1970 plantings, some eight acres of vines, will yield around 3 tonnes of Pinot Noir and 1 tonne each of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon - around 0.7 tons per acre! Yield per vine is the major determinant - around 400g each. Bunch weights are naturally low, around 35g-40g each. The berries are small and intense, often the size of small peas, allowing a high ratio of skin to juice. More recent plantings crop only marginally higher at around 900kg per acre as a result of denser plantings.
Two vineyard extensions, each around six acres in size (planted in 2000 and 2005), will over the longer term provide the necessary resources to expand, however we do not intend to include this fruit under the Estate label until the vines reach 15 years of age, and 20 years of age before they will be considered for the Premium label. A separate Village classification is used for these wines in the meantime. Consistent with the old vineyard, the newer blocks (if they can still be called that) are unirrigated and unfertilised, which means they require a number of years to establish themselves. Whilst many vineyards aim to produce a reasonably-sized crop in the third year, the newer unirrigated blocks took between 5 and 8 years to produce their first crops, but the quality was well worth the wait!
Fruit is picked at optimum ripeness - ideally between 12.5 and 13.0 baume. For our site this enables full physiological ripeness, and flavour and tannin development, yet also allows retention of natural acid, keeping the fruit in balance and providing the backbone essential for good ageing.
Closure: Diam Cork
Bottle Size: 750ml
Alcohol: Drink Until: 2024
About the Producer
Hillcrest is an elite Yarra Valley producer. The wines, farmed and vinified by owners David and Tanya Bryant, are some of the finest in the region. Every wine produced is grown on the estate; the Premium and Reserve range grown on the impossibly low yielding original plantings from 1970 and the Village wines grown on the younger vineyard extensions in 2000 and 2005. The wines have a power and a presence. They are made in minuscule volumes. They are treasured by avid collectors and have extraordinary longevity. These are gorgeous wines that speak of their site and show the vagaries of vintage, a must have for the serious Yarra Valley enthusiast.
The Yarra Valley stands tall as one of the country’s finest cool-climate wine regions. Only a short jaunt from Melbourne, the Yarra has become a tourist hot-spot for its stunning scenery, high quality produce, and of course, as the home to some of the country’s most iconic wine producers. From the extraordinarily elegant Cabernets and Syrahs that populate the ‘Valley floor’, to the precise and complex versions of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that hail from the higher climes of the Yarra, this region is diverse and in a state of change. As temperatures rise and phylloxera infiltrates each pocket of the Yarra Valley, the range of alternative varieties from continental Europe is sure to increase to create a more colourful picture of the region. The Yarra embodies so much of what is great about the modern Australian wine scene.
Australian Chardonnay is a seductive variety that comes in all shapes and sizes. From the toasty and voluptuous to the lean, flinty and minerally, there is a Chardonnay out there to suit everyone. Australia’s developing prowess with this variety has been marked by the international community with wine writers such as Jancis Robinson marvelling at the outstanding value to be had right across the country. The prestige brands of Margaret River offer wines of deep flavour and power, often crafting fuller-figured Chardonnay of outstanding quality. The cooler-climate wines from the Yarra Valley, Tasmania and the like are more focused and linear, building complexity around a backbone of pristine acidity. Whatever your preference, there is an Australian Chardonnay to enchant all comers.
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