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International Trophy Chardonnay over £15 – Anthony Joseph Vidal, Legacy Chardonnay, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand 2012

Distinctly modern New Zealand Chardonnay, full of gun smoke, grapefruit skin, toast, vanilla and sizzling butter aromas. White nectarine and peach flavours greet you on the palate which is broad, rich and creamy, yet manages to retain a distinct elegance, with lovely length and a pleasingly dry finish (13.5%).
£39.20 Halifax Wine Co, Hatch Mansfield, Whalley Wine Shop

The Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay was the nearunanimous choice for this International Trophy among our judging panel, thanks to its beautiful texture, assured winemaking and judicious balance between fruit and oak. It overcame some stellar competition from Margaret River, South Africa’s cool Elgin region and a classic Chassagne-Montrachet.

The judges’ description of the wine is in tune with Vidal winemaker Hugh Crichton’s mission to achieve power and restraint in his wines, alongside concentration, complexity and fine texture. Freshness is key, thanks to retaining good natural acidity and balanced alcohol, alongside the careful use of oak.

But the 2012 vintage of this wine was also shaped by the elements. Heavy rain was forecast for Hawke’s Bay in the run-up to harvest, leaving the Vidal team with a tough call; they decided to pick all the Chardonnay, rather than risk losing the entire crop, and reaped the reward in the shape of a wine of restraint and freshness, with great flavours and acidity. Low yields also helped.

The vineyards for this wine are largely situated in places where the meso-climatic conditions combine warmth for richness of flavour with night-time coolness to preserve good levels of natural acidity. Low to moderate soil fertility and green harvesting help to keep yields down and control vigour.

Now owned by Sir George Fistonich of Villa Maria fame, Vidal was created in 1905 when Spaniard Anthony Joseph Vidal left his uncle Joseph Soler’s estate in Whanganui and planted a small vineyard at Hastings in Hawke’s Bay, lured by the alluvial soil and dry conditions that reminded him of his homeland.

Vidal__Hugh_Cricton_1Vidal winemaker Hugh Crichtonaims for a balance of power and restraint in his wines

Tasted against

Château de Santenay, Chassagne-Montrachet, Burgundy, France 2013 • Oak Valley, Chardonnay, Elgin, South Africa 2014 • Vasse Felix, Heytesbury Chardonnay, Margaret River, Western Australia 2013.

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