Bay winemaker Hugh Crichton has claimed the King of Chardonnay crown.

His Vidal Legacy Chardonnay 2012 has received the International Chardonnay Trophy at the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) in London.

The awards are the world's largest and most influential wine competition. More than 16,000 wines were judged by a panel of 240 experts including some of the world's greatest winemakers, sommeliers and masters of wine.

The "world cup" of wine, the award marks the pinnacle of recognition for Mr Crichton's chardonnay, which has received three trophies in other competitions.


Mr Crichton has achieved greatness with Hawke's Bay chardonnay, his last five vintages of Vidal Estate's premium chardonnay picking up top awards globally. He said that ultimately the award was an affirmation to the world that Hawke's Bay made fantastic chardonnay.

"The region's climate and our vineyards bring elements of freshness to the wine, so it's not too big and heavy, but has concentration of flavour and depth of complexity," Mr Crichton said.

These were all qualities which great wines should have, but not all parts of the world could deliver.

Mr Crichton described his chardonnay as a complex wine with a nice combination of oak and fruit flavours.

He credits the quality of his production team as key to the wine's success.

Judges described Mr Crichton's chardonnay as a distinctly modern New Zealand chardonnay, full of gunsmoke, grapefruit skin, toast, vanilla and sizzling butter aromas.

White nectarine and peach flavours greeted you on the palate, the DWWA tasting team said. It was broad, rich and creamy, yet managed to retain a distinct elegance, with lovely length and a pleasingly dry finish.

Mr Crichton's interest in fine wine developed during his formative drinking years in the United Kingdom.

Exposure to French Burgundy, Bordeaux and German riesling drove his passion and got him hooked on the idea of winemaking.

"Once you expose your palate to these wines it really broadens your appreciation," he said.

The Vidal Legacy Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2012 is available in selected restaurants and fine-wine retail stores.