Pegasus – You’re a Legend!

We have a flighty old nag shut away in a stable out the back and it could tell you a tale or two if it had a mind to do it. For reasons that we don’t know, it’s rather shy, so gather round close or it will overhear us and have a tantrum. Perhaps part of its problem is due to confusion over gender orientation or, to be more precise, sexual identity. That’s right, some have said that it’s a man and others have assured us that it’s a lady. We think it’s pretty easy to sex a horse but clearly some have difficulty. As if that’s not bad enough, even its real colour has been called into question. It has been claimed to be both black and white but nobody has said that it’s grey or piebald. It is as though the beast is the Michael Jackson of the horse world but we have no doubt that our pet will still be world famous when Hollywood has long been forgotten. From here it looks masculine andwhite so let’s just stick with that at present.

But there’s no doubt about our Pegasus’s pedigree. He was born in the time of the ancient Greeks; let’s say about 600 BC. His dad was an impressive, if somewhat grumpy, old chap that liked throwing his weight about. The Greeks called him Poseidon and put him in charge of storms, thunder, lightning, war, earthquakes, horses and the sea. Like all politicians, he thought he was a God but really he was only Minister of this and that. At any rate, like a number of celebrities, he was inclined to share his favours about and at one stage he took a fancy to Medusa. We respect his right to choose the target of his sexual desires but we won’t be nominating him as a judge in the Miss Universe contest. Medusa was a gorgon and was said to be hideously ugly. Instead of hair she had a head of writhing snakes. We guess she must have had some good features; body perhaps? To a potential suitor a slight negative was that even the merest glance at her face guaranteed the voyeur would immediately be turned into stone. Perhaps this is why there are so many statues of dirty old Poseidon in Europe.

Well, in spite of this unholy matrimony, the birth of Pegasus was not a simple affair and required the help of a midwife called Perseus. Now, it seems as though the ancient Greeks got tired of being turned into stones and called on the help of Perseus, who was son of the gods’ Prime Minister, an enterprising old fellow called Zeus, and a mere mortal of a woman. Perseus was in the habit of doing heroic deeds so it was no great trouble to him to dispatch old Medusa. But our little hero didn’t fancy spending his life as a statue so he shone up his bronze shield and backed up to Medusa, presumably as she was distracted combing her snakes. All the time Perseus was looking at her harmless image in his shield. Then, with a backhander, that would have been the pride of any Wimbledon tennis player or Greek politician, he simply lopped off her nut. Keeping his eyes averted Perseus then picked up her head and thrust it into his man bag, which he just happened to have over his shoulder. From then on he used this grisly little memento as a bit of a party trick, asking the pompous and boring to guess what he had in his bag. When they were stumped he would pull out old Medusa’s nut by her snakes and wave it around. Hey presto, the dull upstart would be stoned; end of problem.

But, as any old midwife knows, births are a messy affair, hence their motto “No blood;no bub” and the blood that was shed when Pegasus was born was that of his grisly old gorgon mum. Yes, from the blood on the rock where she liked to hang out rose a magnificent white stallion (remember we chose our sex and colour earlier) that had the advantage of having wings. Pegasus had the distinction of fledging early; in fact, it rose up into the sky then and there without soiling its pristine white coat with any of that bloody mess. 

One of Pegasus’ big advantages or little trials, depending on your point of view, was that if he stuck his hoof into the earth a spring was created and water would suddenly gush forth. Now, at that time there were nine nubile and comely goddesses or Muses who happened to be the source of all inspiration in the sciences, literature and arts. It was they who allowed people create poetry, stories and music. They lived on Mount Helicon, which started to swell with the rapture of their singing and it became in danger of exploding. Whether the Muses were ignorant of their danger or just bloody-minded is uncertain but Pegasus, being a lover of music and singing, came to their rescue. He sunk his hoof into the mountain side and out gushed a stream that took the pressure off and saved the day. Without good old Pegasus the world would be bereft of music, song, poetry and literature. Somewhere along the way he also met up with Athena, the patron goddess of Athens, and served as her steed. She just happened to be minister in charge of those same things as well as law, justice, and an assortment of other miscellaneous departments.

Let’s fast forward by 2 ½ millennia when in 1810 Pegasus was limping southwards, leaking badly from a wound in his side. He was exploring Aotearoa and holding his reins was Captain Samuel Chase. Captain Cook had mistaken Banks Peninsula for an island and to their dismay Pegasus and his captain discovered Cook’s mistake as they tried to sail between the supposed island and the mainland. Pegasus surveyed the region and lent his name to the large swooping bay that stretched from Christchurch northward towards Kaikoura. Happily, Pegasus had his wound repaired on Stewart Island and crossed the ditch safely to Oz, from whence he had come. 

When we came to name our vineyard and winery we were drawn to the legendary horse, not only because Pegasus Bay is our neighbour, but also because we love music, singing, the arts and literature. Chris Donaldson, Mrs Pegasus, was on the board of Canterbury Opera for a couple of decades, as well as being a “chorus girl” and chorister for many years. It was for this reason that we gave our reserve wines musical and operatic names. 

Oh, by the way, we haven’t told our stable guest this just in case it causes consternation, but old Zeus thought that Pegasus had done such a decent job that he immortalised him in the northern sky. There on a clear night he can be seen causing a constellation; the constellation of Pegasus. That is the simple story of our Pegasus.

An early design for the Pegasus Bay logo

Aged Releases

In next newsletter we will be releasing a small selection of mature Pegasus Bay wines from our Museum Cellar to show you what they should be like been carefully aged. We intend to make further such releases each spring.

Trained at tasting

Coming from a small town in a small country we know how easy it is to become parochial and it is only when you get out into the big wide world that you realise your real significance or insignificance in the overall scheme of things. For us, it is not only about having a realistic appreciation about the relative quality of Pegasus Bay wines within our region but also about Waipara’s place in our nation’s viticultural scene and how New Zealand wines compare with those of other countries. A true understanding can only come through education and experience and that is why we have encouraged and supported our four tasting room staff to broaden their horizons in this way. They have all been successfully involved in the London based Wine and Spirit Education Trust’s (WSET) multi-year study and examination program. Thus, whether you get Heike, Penny, Jennifer or Sue when you next visit our tasting room you are bound to get an informed view, not only about Pegasus Bay wines but about our little place in the big wide world. We suspect that Pegasus Bay is the only winery tasting room in the country where all the staff are qualified in this way.

Pegasus Bay and the other Family of 12 wineries were privileged to be able to host a recent visit to NZ by David Way, who is responsible for the WSET curriculum, so he is now familiar with exactly where we live and is well qualified to put us in our place.

Pegasus Bay's trained tasting room staff, (from left) Heike, Penny, Jennifer & Sue

Hanging around with the birds 

No doubt that you were taught from a young age that birds come in all shapes, sizes and temperaments. There are good birds, cheeky birds, naughty birds and bad birds. Bad birds can fleece you in next to no time, stripping you of all you have. Naughty birds can be spoilers; not wanting everything for themselves but just messing things up and leaving a trail of damage in their wake. Cheeky birds attract a lot of attention to themselves but often don’t follow through. Good birds don’t do any of those things. They usually behave themselves impeccably but may try to protect their territory by scaring the less desirable types away. 

Most folks like birds and a few of our friends would even describe themselves as “bird fanciers”. However kiwi grape growers and winemakers have a thing about birds; it’s a type of ambivalence if not a love-hate relationship. For them, bad birds are starlings, that roam about large hordes and can literally “clean out” a vineyard in quite a short time. Like starlings, blackbirds and thrushes eat whole berries but as they don’t hunt in packs the damage that they cause is usually less severe. All of these bad birds, however, soon fill themselves up. That little Aussie interloper, the wax eye or silver eye, is a spoiler and just takes a peck out of one grape before moving on to the next, without ever seeming to become satiated. Not only do the damaged berries go mouldy but this fungus often spreads and ruins the whole bunch. When you think about cheeky birds, no doubt tits come to mind but we’re not well endowed in this department so for us it’s all about finches. They attract the vigneron’s attention by flying around the vineyard in flocks but they are harmless. Hawks, falcons and magpies are good guys and help scare away other birds. 

But at Pegasus Bay we have many birds that we regard as good and that we encourage by providing them with a natural environment. Their numbers have increased or they have adopted us since we undertook a program of restoring indigenous plants. Now our birds include shining cuckoos, bellbirds, moreporks, pukekos, plovers, native ducks, pheasants, quail, and herons. We have had a family of white faced herons based at our vineyard for at least 25 years. Many years ago we decided to net all of our vineyards so that we didn’t have to do fight with the birds. Naturally, all re the feathered friends of Pegasus.

A white faced heron in the Pegasus Bay vineyard

Dedicated to dining

Sadly, you may have seen in the news recently that Benoit Violier, one of the top, if not the top Michelin chef in France, committed suicide because it was rumoured his restaurant might lose one of its stars. It reminded us of our visit to France last year where we, along with three other New Zealand vineyards, had our wines matched with haute cuisine in Michelin starred restaurants in Paris and Burgundy that were owned by the Loiseau family. Tragically, the same thing had happened to master chef Bernard Loiseau many years earlier. In both cases the rumours turned out to be false. We were delighted with the reception that the Pegasus Bay wines received and how well they matched the exquisitely prepared and presented food.

We don’t pretend that the dishes and wine at the Pegasus Bay restaurant are like those you would be served at a top French restaurant because Kiwi food and wine have their own defining features. We are, however, proud of the HAT that we were awarded in the Cuisine Restaurant Awards, which is modelled on the Michelin system. We are also experienced in matching wine and food, and with all of the dishes on our menu there are special wine suggestions. Kiwis, however, tend to be more relaxed than the French in these matters and, while Pegasus Bay is serious about its wine and food, our main concern is that your dining experience is memorable and enjoyable in every way. 

We realise that some of you may have been disappointed at being turned away from our restaurant over the summer and we apologise for this. It has been due both to our popularity and to difficulty in obtaining qualified staff. You may have heard about the nationwide shortage of hospitality staff that has been in the news recently. This has affected us as well as others so that at times we have had to limit the number of diners that we can serve. Our restaurant is going to be closed from 18 July until 7 August inclusive (reopening on Monday, 8 August) in order to give a hard-working staff their annual leave. Over this time the tasting room will remain open and we would be delighted to see you. At all times it is best to telephone 03 3146869 extension 1 to make a reservation for the restaurant and thus avoid disappointment.

A group of dedicated Pegasus Bay diners

From the Prescription Pad

Autumn is upon us and yet another harvest is nigh; the vintage of 2016. It is the time when nature gives up its bounty, the riches of the land. These are the golden days of ripe fruit and plenty, when the labours of the whole year are reaped within a few short weeks. A recent news item on CNN, entitled “France’s best job?”, was about picking grapes in the St Emilion region of Bordeaux, The article described how each year 120 lucky people were summoned by engraved invitation to Château Cheval Blanc (White Horse) to pick the grapes, known as vendange in French. It went on to describe how the cool mornings and sunny days provided perfect conditions for harvesting and how, after a “copious breakfast” the happy pickers were let loose on the vines that were heavily laden with sweet, deep purple bunches. All they needed to do was to “snip” and there would be satisfying “plops” as bunches fell into their buckets. When these containers were full, they merely had to cry “Porteur” and a muscular young hulk would appear out of nowhere and tip the contents over his shoulder into a large receptacle on his back. 

But it turns out that this cushy sounding work wasn’t the main reason that people came to pick grapes at the esteemed Château; it was the lunch. Yes, come noon they all sat at tables feasting on “thick slices of rare beef grilled over old grapevines”. To aid their digestion waiters scuttled around serving them “endless glasses” of 2004 Cheval Blanc wine. To follow, they swilled back a few glasses of 1987 Château d’Yquem, the world’s most famous and expensive desert wine. Undoubtedly the latter would be for medicinal purposes only as the dear old Château owner wouldn’t want his workers becoming dehydrated. How much toil was actually done after lunch wasn’t made clear by CNN but the journalist did say that this was “one way young people met and hooked up.” I’m not just sure what that expression means but it sounds as though the afternoons wouldn’t have been wasted. 

Now, just in case any of you are thinking of applying to pick grapes at the Pegasus Bay vineyard, let me forewarn you that there may be one or two minor variations to the above scenario. While we frequently have an Indian summer over harvest there may be some cold and even windy days and so long as the grapes are dry we will want you to work. Should you strike a sunny norwest day it won’t be long before you’re hot and sweaty, so wear a hat and bring your sunscreen. To pick grapes it is necessary to stoop and, although CNN didn’t mention it, it is good to have a strong back, or at least one that is stronger than your head, which might otherwise start demanding that you stop. 

As the day wears on you will probably find that your “plop” is not as sensuous as it sounded initially and, in fact, it may become irritating or simply cease to register. Our  porteurs” are not as servile as they once were but may helpfully tell you where to stick your grapes should you hail them in such a jolly manner. You will be expected to empty your bucket yourself into regularly placed under-vine crates that will be collected later by a trailer totting quad bike. And then there is the small matter of the “snips”. We will give you a pair when you arrive and we want them back when you leave. Along the way you may have acquired your own personal “snips” and these you can take home. You will have earned them because they come with the territory. They are like the stars you got at Sunday school or brownie points except they are distinctions for bad behaviour because you’re not supposed to snip yourself. Don’t feel bad when you do it because it’s inevitable. All beginners snip themselves with their snips and we will have plenty of sticking plasters at hand. We only ask you to be thoughtful and refrain from snipping yourself when picking white grapes as we don’t make

Should your grape picking experience make you a little fragile we may offer you a cushy job on the sorting table at the winery. There, the harvested fruit is moved quickly across the surface of a long table while you and others stand there picking out the MOG (Material Other than Grapes). We are aiming to get rid of leaves, stalks, green fruit and anything, other than beautiful ripe grapes, which may have found its way into your bucket. It sounds a cinch, doesn’t it? The only problem is that the table is rapidly vibrating to turn and expose all the fruit. Don’t worry if you are left with the mother of all  tremors at the end of the day; that’s normal. It will be gone the next day but don’t try to get anything out of your eye in the meantime! 

Oh, and another thing. At Pegasus Bay we work in the afternoons so don’t expect a big nosh up at lunch time. It will be BYO sandwiches and a cuppa. We’ve checked with the Department of Workplace Health and Safety (DWHS) and they have put the kibosh on the 6 litre bottles of Château Cheval  Blanc and the Château d’Yquem, which is a pity as we had already brought them in. But there you go; I’m sure we’ll find some other folks to drink them with. 

I just wanted to mention about this “hooking up” thingamajig. I’ve spoken to the boffins at DWHS who couldn’t find it mentioned in their regulations so apparently it’s open slather. They said “first in first served.” I think that’s one thing on which the flying horse could give the white horse a good run for its money. You never know, the two old nags could end up in a tussle but they won’t find  themselves in a compromising situation, according to the DWHS. 

Finally, should you be interested in a position, don’t call us. Just respond when you get the engraved card.

Recent Seasons

The growing conditions of the 2009 vintage were amongst our best and we were delighted with both the reds and whites. The 2010 season was marked by a cloudy and indifferent late  spring and early summer. In February, however, the sun  began to shine and we had 3 months of perfect weather, resulting in excellent ripeness and levels of natural acidity. The 2011 vintage followed a very warm season and was one of the earliest we have experienced, producing beautiful physiological ripeness. It was a complete contrast to the following season and 2012 was one of the slowest ripening vintages that we have seen. Dry weather in late autumn allowed a prolonged hang time, which has produced a splendid spectrum of flavours and a lively freshness. A mild spring, a warm summer and a long lingering autumn created a perfect prelude to the 2013 vintage. Autumn rain in 2014 caused us to pick earlier than usual but the early-season ripening of the grapes was precocious so that the harvested fruit was physiologically ripe. Later noble botrytis flavoured the aromatic whites.

Current Vintages / Releases

All bottles 750ml unless otherwise stated


750ml & Magnum 1.5 LT

One of the marvelous things about riesling is its spectacular ability to age.  It is capable of living longer than most wines and is frequently alive and in good voice when other varieties, even big body reds, are well and truly dead.  In addition, as it ages it develops a unique peacock's tail of shimmering, iridescent aromas and flavours that ascend beyond its exuberant youthful fruitiness.  We felt privileged that a little over a year ago our marketing manager, Edward Donaldson, was chosen to run a master class with Annie Trimbach, from the celebrated Alsatian family's winery of the same name, and Britain's 'Queen of wine' Jancis Robinson at London's 'Great Riesling Tasting'.  Due to the special vintage conditions we regard our 2014 riesling as one of our best.  As this wine is being released for the first time we do not have any reviews but here are our cellar notes.  

White fleshed peaches, nectarines, citrus flowers and fruits, especially those of oranges, mandarins and limes, supported by jasmine and lychees.  Concentrated and mouth filling tangy minerality and acidity that balance its off-dry finish.  Flavours linger long after swallowing.


As mentioned in "Recent Seasons", a portion of the fruit developed late-season botrytis.  This has concentrated and enhanced the wine making it particularly Alsatian like.

95/100  Perfumed nougat, burnt roses, brulee, white peach and honey ... Rich, salivating ... Long rewarding finish.  Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, NZ

5 stars, 18.5/20  Soft, rich and plush ...Exotic flavours, tropical fruits, Turkish delight, honey and musk.  Raymond Chan, NZ


This is only the second Pegasus Bay Pinot Gris that we have released and it was the result of exceptional vintage conditions (see above under "recent seasons").  This botrytic wine was fermented and aged for 18 months on its natural yeast lees in old French oak puncheons and made somewhat in the style of an Alsatian Vendange Tardive or Selection des Grains Nobles.  Wine writers have not yet had a chance to see but these are our cellar notes.

Ripe fig, pineapple, pear, ginger, sandalwood and nougat ... rich and unctuous... natural sweetness being balanced by incisive acidity.  Flavour lingers well after swallowing.



We made this classical French blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon in the traditional manner with wild fermentation by the grapes indigenous yeast's, and ageing on its yeast deposit (sur lie) for 6 months, the semillon portion being in old French barrels.  This tomes down the pungent sauvignon blanc character, fills out the palate, adds a creamy texture and gives the wine more complexity. It thus becomes what the French intent, a food wine and not just an in your face talking point to be sipped at parties instead of a cocktail.  In addition, the semillon adds longevity enabling the wine to develop savoury nuances with cellaring.  Accordingly, we hold this wine back and regularly release it when most sauvignon blanc wines of the same vintage has gone over the hill.

94/100 ... Cascading quince, citrus, lychee, passion fruit, guava .... tropical zesty acidity ... Exceptional length and complexity.  Rob Geddes MW, Australian Wine Vintages AUS

18.5+/20 Rich, concentrated ....Seamlessly interwoven ... Ripe gooseberries ... greengage. Raymond Chan, NZ

90/100 Grapefruit, passionfruit, fresh sage, lemon marmalade, cedar, orange blossom ...great concentratiohn of ripe fruit and tropical flavours.  Excellent length.  Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, USA 


Following a string of five-star reviews this wine rapidly sold out but we are releasing a small amount of Virtuoso from the same vintage.


Magnum 1.5lt

Like our Chardonnay 2013, the 750ml bottles of this wine sold through quickly but we held back some of these larger bottles which have now matured beautifully.  Pegasus Bay chardonnays come from an old low yielding clone that tends to produce a very concentrated wine.  In the tradition of great white Burgundy, these wines are fermented in French puncheons by the grapes' natural micro-organisms and aged on lees for 18 months.  We use only a minority of new barrels to minimize any oak character and emphasize the power of the fruit.

5 stars, 94/100 Impressively complex ... Concentrated and intensely flavoured with superb mid-palate weight and texture.  Sam Kim, NZ

5 stars, 92+/100 ... Bursting with layers of citrus and judiciously handled oak ... One for those who love a great chardonnay. Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, USA


We use traditional Burgundian techniques to make our Pinot Noir, including natural primary and secondary fermentations by indigenous micro-organisms.  Primary fermentation is carried out in small vats that are gently plunged manually to avoid excessive extraction.  This wine was then matured for 18 months in oak barriques from artisan Burgundian coopers.  It is only a baby but is already showing well.

96/100 A sense of real depth... noble tannins and the sort of structural complexity and completness that is the envy of most other NZ pinot noir makers.  Nick Stock, USA

18.5/20 Rich, lush and concentrated ... With an array of complex flavours.  Raymond Chan, NZ

5 stars, 93/100  ... Full-flavoured ...Plum, spice, black cherry, floral/violet ... Savoury and mineral... power and a lengthy finish.  Consistently top wine.  Bob Campbell MW, NZ

92+/100  Stunning perfume ... Beautifully elegant and ethereal ... Silky tannins ... Finishes long.  Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, USA


Magnum 1.5 lt

This pinot and the 2010 mentioned below were made in exactly the same way as the 2012 but they have been held back before release because of the larger bottles.

93/100  Lifted spicy cherry ... Lively and driven on the palate ... Great ... lingering finish.  James Suckling, USA

90/100 ... Wild on the palate ... Complex flavours of red current, raspberry, pomegranate and spices ... energetic wine.  Vintage in and vintage out, Pegasus Bay makes one of New Zealand's finest pinots.  Steve Tanzer, USA

91/100 Intense and moderately complex ... plum, dark berry, raspberry, dark chocolate, spice and savoury flavours ... Richly textured with a very slight rustic influence that helps make it stand  out from the crowd.  Bob Campbell MW, NZ

Delicious ... mouth filling and generous ... harmony and length. Drink now or cellar.  Michael Cooper, Buyers' Guide to New Zealand Wines 2014. NZ.


Jeroboam 3 lt

This was the second highest scorer in a tasting of hundreds of Kiwi wines held in New York, the top wine being the 2010 Pegasus Bay Prima Donna.

92/100  Enticing aromas ... Impressive fruit intensity with underlying minerality ... Finishes very long with noble tannins.  Steve Tanzer, USA 

5 stars  Authoritative ... Powerful but silky textured, highly concentrated, well ripened cherry/plum flavours adn excellent harmony.  Michael Cooper, Buyers' Guide to New Zealand Wines 2013. NZ.

5 stars, 18.5/20  Robust with good power and complexity of flavour.  Raymond Chan, NZ

95/100  So much character and interest.  Gary Walsh, WInefront. AUS

94/100 So perfumed ... Dark fruits, full body and intense structure.  James Suckling, USA

94/100  ...Assertive black cherry nose ... Lovely focus with good acid and tannin.  Jamie Goode,  UK.

92/100  Great intensity of red berry and spice flavours in the mouth ... finely grained tannins ... Finishing long and layered. Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, USA  


We make this blend of traditional Bordeaux claret grapes in the Bordelaise manner with pump-over and aeration of juice during fermentation, followed by maturation in French oak barriques for 18 months.  It was clarified by racking it off  its natural yeast deposit on several occasions prior to bottling.

4 stars  Blackberry and dark red plum infused with red currants ... satin-like tannins ... Smooth and finely concentrated ... Long complex finish.  Raymond Chan, NZ

4 stars  Fragrant, mouth filling and fleshy ... Plummy spicy flavours ... Good complexity and a well rounded finish.  Michael Cooper,  NZ


Magnum 1.5 lt

This wine was made in exactly the same way as the 2012 mentioned above.  It has matured magnificently in Magnum and is ready to drink but can be expected to cellar well for many years.

5 stars  Exotic, perfumed .... impressive complexity.  Pure blackberry and plum with sweet spices, toast and leather ...  Perfectly integrated ... Superb structure and balance.  Excellent length and persistence of flavour.  Wine NZ magazine, NZ

4.5 stars  Classy ...fleshy, rich and smooth with concentrated blackcurrant, plum ...Silky textured and generous.  Winestate Magazine, AUS

Chewy, fleshy with plum, dark berry chocolate/mocha.  Deliciously accessible red that I find very appealing.  Bob Campbell MW, Your Home and Garden Magazine, NZ


Reserve Wines


750 ml and Magnum 1.5 lt

Bel Canto is possible to make only in certain years.  It is from riesling with virtually the same ripeness as that used for Aria, but is fermented to dryness.  It thus has the richness and concentration of Aria without its sweetness.  We feel that this wine is a milestone for us because of the special vintage conditions.  In spite of its youth it is ready to drink but we believe it will cellar well.

5 stars, 95/100  Complex with apricots, honey, spice, clove floral and citrus characters ... Gives a nod in the direction of Alsace. Bob Campbell MW, NZ

19/20  Harmoniously intertwined flavours of ripe citrus fruits, marmalade, honey, musk and minerality.  Smooth texture with considerable power and drive. Raymond Chan, NZ

5 stars  Outstanding..  Full-bodied white with all the richness and complexity of the great chardonnay ... Deliciously long finish.  Joelle Thompson, Drinksbiz magazine, NZ

Excellent. Distinctively different ... Fascinatingly complex.  Mark Henderson, Otago Daily Times, NZ


Over the years this late harvest riesling has been one of our most popular wines but is made only in special vintages.  2014 was definitely one such with a burst of late season rain encouraging beautifully noble botrytis.  In making this wine we hand-selected only bunches that had 30% or more of such fruit.  Although we are releasing this wine for the first time in this newsletter one writer managed to get a sneak preview.

93/100  Bold and rich ... Honey, syrup, sweet citrus apple tart and poached orchard fruits.  Delicious.  Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, NZ


Magnum 1.5 lt

This was the first that we produced after 2009 and we believe it is a beauty.

5 stars, 19/20  Citrus fruits, exotic florals, honey and marmalade infused with musky botrytis and subtle toasty complexities ... Beautifully elegant and refined... With a balance between decadence and freshness.  Raymond Chan, NZ

5 stars, 94/100  Delicious vintage for aria... Tree fruit and bush honey flavours.  Iconic.  Bob Campbell MW, NZ

94/100  Complex, honeyed, mandarin and apricots flavours with spicy tones . . .  Clean and precise.  Rebecca Gibb MW,

92+/100  ...Exotic fruit intensity in the mouth... Glorious finish that goes on and on.  Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, USA


375 ml

It is possible to make this riesling, which is in the style of an Alsatian Selection des Grains Nobles or German Trockenbeerenauslese, only in very special years.  Late in the season we carefully hand selected only the most perfectly raisined botrytic fruit and the small amount of juice that we obtained was left to slowly ferment at a low temperature over the winter and spring.  As this wine is being released for the first time in this newsletter we do not have any reviews but we think it is very special and here are our cellar notes.

Apricots, golden peaches, mango, pineapple, honeycomb and spicy ginger ... Rich, luscious and sweet balanced by crisp acidity.  Lingering flavours.


375 ml

Finale is made in the style of French Sauternes.  We selected only the most perfect, beautifully raisined berries and the small amount of juice obtained was fermented in French artisan oak barriques, using the grapes' indigenous yeasts, and then matured in these barrels.  We released an earlier 2011 Finale that was made out of semillon alone.  It received multiple five-star reviews, including in Michael Cooper's, Buyers' Guide to New Zealand Wines 2015, NZ.

As in the tradition in sauternes, this new wine is a blend of noble semillon and sauvignon blanc.  Although it is from the same vintage as the first Finale 2011 we believe that it has an additional degree of complexity and lusciousness because of the blend and the extra time it has had in barrel.

94/100  Fantastic!  Delicious, honeyed, oozing flavour and texture ... Citrus and stone fruit ... Long finish.  Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, NZ

4.5 stars  Our judges loved the crazy, toasty complexity ... Preserved citrus, dried tropical fruit and Madeira- like character.  Dish Magazine, NZ


Virtuoso is our reserve chardonnay and is made in the same way as Pegasus Bay Chardonnay, mentioned above.  It comes from a selection of puncheons which we feel especially reflect the terroir.  Generally these come from our oldest (30 years) vines, which are on their own roots.  As it is being released for the first time we do not have any reviews but we regard this wine very highly.  Here are our cellar notes.

Impressions of citrus and stone fruits, including white peach, nectarine and greengage.  Complex underlay of barbecued corn, sizzled butter and grilled mushrooms.  Palate entry is deceptively light but the wine expands to become mouth filling while retaining elegance and finesse ... lively aciditiy and minerality ... savoury aftertaste.



We produce Prima Donna in exceptional years.  It is made in exactly the same way as Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2012 mentioned above and it is a blend of the barrels that we feel best reflect the vintage and our unique terroir.  As usual, it mainly comes from our oldest, lowest cropping vines that are non-grafted.

5 star,  Powerful, silky textured ... Plum, spice and nut ... Strong sense of depth and potential ... Already lovely but should be long-lived  Michael Cooper, Buyers' Guide to New Zealand Wines 2014. NZ.

97/100  Defined, articulate ...Red cherries, dark spices, earth and fine chocolate ...  Will age magnificently.  Nick Stock, USA

93/100  Rich perfume ... Complex ... Savoury ... Lengthy finish.  Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, NZ

92/100  Great core of tense, tight flavours ... Firm fine tannins and great length.  Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, USA

Excellent/outstanding concentrated yet not overblown ... Layers of flavour ... Sumptuous ...  Mark Henderson, Otago Daily Times, NZ


Magnum 1.5 lt

This is the wine that scored top out of a tasting of hundreds of NZ wines in New York.

93+/100  Impressive energy giving intense red berry and mineral flavours, terrific penetration.  Superb rising finish saturates the palate ... Downright Chambolle- like.  Steve Tanzer, USA

93+/100  Beguiling aromas ... Black cherries, mulberries ... dark chocolate, lilacs and cloves ... muscular red berry and savoury finish, finishing long.  Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, USA

94/100  Crazy pure with strawberry, flowers, raspberries and liquorice ... Very dense with fabulous tannins and length.  James Suckling, Curriculum USA

5 stars,  Powerful and finely fragrant, with dense cherry, plum and slight liquorice flavours, deliciously rich and well rounded.  Michael Cooper, Buyers' Guide to New Zealand Wines 2013. NZ 

5 stars, Very rich and supple ... A real sense of poise and power.  Winestate Magazine AUS

5 stars,  Waves of savoury dark berry and cherry ... Full, rich and layered ...Raymond Chan, NZ


Jeroboam 3 lt

This wine is just the thing for that very special anniversary or the like event.

This Prima Donna was named as one of the Dream Dozen Kiwi Pinot Noirs in Britain's Decanter Wine Magazine by Matthew Jukes.

5 stars,  Depth of fruit and lashings of Waipara dirt mark it as one of the most obviously terroir-reflecting wines.  Dark and brooding.  A mighty wine which draws energies from the vineyard as opposed to the barrel.  Decanter Magazine UK

5 star, 93/100  Dense, powerful ... very complex ... merely hints at its full potential.  Bob Campbell MW, NZ

5 stars,  Concentrated, ripe, cherry/plum flavours ... rich, seductively smooth finish.  Superb drinking.  Michael Cooper, Winestate Magazine AUS

92+/100  Marked raspberry and spice, leather and gamey nuances.  Juicy, tightly coiled and penetrating.  Steve Tanzer, USA

91/100  Impressive weight.  Concentration suggests it will blossom in 3 or 4 years.  Robert Parker's Wine Advocate USA

5 stars, 96/100  Exceptional pinot noir ... should be in every wine enthusuast's cellar.  Sam Kim, Wine Orbit NZ

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Filed in: 2016

Pegasus Bay

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Off Licence.
Licence Holder:Donaldson Family Limited T/A:Pegasus Bay Winery.
Licence no:57/OFF/458/2022 Exp:16/3/2025