Timing is Everything

No doubt you have heard the saying, Timing is everything, and it’s often so true. The difference between success and failure may be a matter of weeks, days, minutes or even seconds. It all depends on your goal, the circumstances and the required action. Nowhere is this more applicable than when harvesting grapes, as every experienced vintner knows and frequently rues. Whether a vintage is good or bad may depend on whether it is picked before or after the rain, to mention just one of many critical timing factors that affect a wine’s quality.

Harvesting early may mean that ripeness is satisfactory, although less than optimal, whereas, riding out rain and seeking perfection, risks dilution, lack of concentration and the development of ruinous moulds. Most ripe grapes can take a shower or two but prolonged rain can spell disaster. Strangely, the opposite scenario, with too much drying heat near vintage, can also be a problem. It can cause over ripeness and shrinkage of the berries, resulting in lack of freshness, acidity and zingy fruit flavours in whites, a jammy, “porty” character in reds and heavy wines with high alcohol. The difference between optimally ripe and over ripe grapes can occur within a day or two, particularly in the hot, drying North Canterbury norwesters, which we affectionately call the “devil’s breath”.

But the decision on when to harvest can be difficult even if you know the wine style you want to make, the fruit is healthy and weather forecast is perfect. How can that be? It is because of variability in ripeness between bunches on different plants, on the same plant and even between berries on the same bunch.

And the reason for this brings us back to the purpose of fruit, which, after all, is to produce seeds that are going to procreate the plant. If flowering occurs over warm weather, the seeds are more likely to be fertile than if it takes place in cold damp conditions. Thus, grapevines, like many cool climate plants, tend to stagger their flowering in the spring to increase their chances of having at least some fertile seeds. If the spring is warm and dry, it brings on the flowering rapidly, so in the following autumn the bunch ripeness is more uniform. The converse occurs if the spring is cool and damp. Naturally, you can get all sorts of combinations in between.

Wine writers sometimes say, “You can’t make lively wine out of dead grapes”, meaning you can’t make a lively vibrant wine when the berries are shrivelled, and this little catch-phrase is especially used for pinot noir. It’s a bit of nonsense, really, because to get many, if not most, bunches to optimal ripeness, in pinot noir, it is almost inevitable that there will be some shrivel in the most advanced berries. Not infrequently, this occurs when there are still a few unripe berries on the bunch and this is particularly likely following a cool spring. In the end, the winemaker and viticulturist have to call the harvest, based on the preferred wine style, the weather forecast, technical data related to the overall ripeness, and the condition of the fruit, including the amount of any shrivel. Not infrequently, it is a nail biting gamble. They well know that it can only be harvested once, and as they say, timing is everything.

Pinot Noir with shrivel in some berries.

The Pegasus Bay Vine Run

Our first Vine Run at Pegasus Bay in support of Brain Research was held at the end of January and we were absolutely thrilled with the outcome.

The sell-out crowd of 400 were a mix of runners and walkers, with many families also taking part. The day had a festive feel with our MC warming up the crowd with his version of winemaking aerobics, and many entrants battling it out for the best costumed and funniest hat awards.

The vineyards were looking resplendent, and while the participants weaved their way around the course, they were entertained by a brass band, a saxophonist and even a string quartet. In the end the clouds held on until almost everyone crossed the line, which was a small mercy, considering the scorching days we had earlier that week.

It was great to see people stay on after the run, to picnic and celebrate with a drink, while enjoying more live music.

We’d like to thank all our amazing friends and volunteers who helped make the event happen. We really couldn’t have done it without them.

It’s also been very humbling to receive so many messages of support from those who attended. Best of all we managed to raise $19,000 for the New Zealand Brain Research Institute which is amazing! It’s really is fantastic to see Ivan’s legacy live on. Stay tuned for next year!

Mike and Di Donaldson, Race Directors.

Mel Brew (Chair of the Friends of the Brain Research Institute), Di Donaldson, Mike Donaldson and Michael MacAskill (Research Director of the New Zealand Brain Research Institute).

The Gardener, The Spitfire And Pegasus

Chris Donaldson and Philip Stewart, the Spitfire pilot, in the Pegasus Bay Garden that he helped create.

About 25 years ago, shortly after we opened the Pegasus Bay restaurant, an elegantly dressed, senior gentleman applied for a job as a waiter. He didn’t get the position, but we gave him work as a gardener and we were lucky enough to have Philip Stewart in our employ for 5 years. We were delighted when he recently celebrated his 100th birthday at our restaurant and his family persuaded him to have his photo taken amongst the garden he helped create. At that moment a small plane appeared over the treetops, flying below the low cloud. Philip looked up in amazement because it was a blast from his adventurous past: a Spitfire that his relatives had arranged just to give him a buzz.

It was in 1940 that Philip volunteered for the New Zealand Air Force and underwent training in a Tiger Moth. In his last flight with an instructor, before being allowed to go solo, another aviator, on his first solo flight, attempted to land on the strip at the same time as Philip but the wrong way around. Philip lost a wing and spun into a macrocarpa tree, his instructor was seriously injured and the miscreant pilot was killed. Philip walked away, and his lucky streak had started. After training on Harvards in Canada, Philip headed to the UK where he became a Spitfire pilot in the RAF. Initially, he defended Britain against incoming enemy aircraft but later flew mainly over Europe. It was on one such mission over Cherbourg in France that his Spitfire was hit by anti-aircraft flack. He attempted to glide back to Britain but had to bail out before he got there. Luckily, his parachute had a small rubber dinghy attached but it was a freezing night and his chances of rescue in the rough sea were less than slim. An Air Sea rescue launch passed him by, thinking the parachute was a white cap, but the Dover harbourmaster was aboard and insisted they go back. Philip had got lucky again!

Later, he was given the task of training other Spitfire pilots at a base in the country. Here, he was a passenger in a multi-vehicle crash that occurred when driving without headlights during a blackout. This time, he was sort of lucky again because he only fractured his left femur, whereas others suffered more serious injuries and a colleague was killed. It meant five months out of action but then he was back in the sky and remained there until after VE (Victory in Europe) day. At that time, he was a flight lieutenant and acting Squadron Leader for the V1 Squadron. All in all, Philip flew over 700 operational wartime flights in his Spitfire, and lived to tell the tale, which may be something of a record as many of his flying buddies perished. Not only that, but he was made a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest decoration for civil or wartime service. And Phillip’s luck has held fast, he’s not only in his 101st year but he’s just had his license renewed until he is 102. That’s his driver’s license, not his Spitfire ticket.

Pegasus is a flighty old beast and often gets upset if he thinks someone is flying higher than him, but not with Philip, they are right old mates.

Of Gardens and Grapes

Paula Kelly and Chris Donaldson working in the oriental garden.

Perhaps you have heard the old saying “Don’t trust a doctor with sick pot plants in the waiting room.” We can’t guarantee its veracity but the general concept seems reasonable, i.e. a person’s care and standards in one area often reflects those in another. By extension, with tongue-in-cheek, we would like to suggest that you should be suspicious of vineyards and wineries with motley surroundings. Gardens and vineyards are both full of plants and conscientious work in one is usually reflected in the other. Without doubt, wines reflect the grapes they are made from and good wines can only be made from good grapes, so there is some merit in the argument.

While we have developed and tended the Pegasus Bay vineyards and winery over the last 30 years, we have not ignored our surroundings and they have been created and nurtured with the same loving care, under the watchful eye and steady hand of Mrs Pegasus, aka Chris Donaldson, with outstanding help from horticulturalist, Paula Kelly. In our vineyards we have many different varieties, clones and blocks of grapes and in our gardens we have many different “rooms”. These rooms are areas that each have their own special aspect, theme and plants. They vary from the small to large, from the hidden to the overt and from the ornamental to the functional, with all sorts of spaces in between. One of the fascinating things about gardens, as well as vineyards, is that they are dynamic, living and forever changing. What you remember of them is what they were, not as they will be on your next visit, and ours keep changing because of additions and alterations, as well as with the seasons.

We have recently added an oriental garden, which complements our biodiversity trail of natives, collection of rare conifers, rhododendron dell, ancient grove of mixed pines, lakes and island, formal flower gardens, fruit and nut trees, vegetable and herb plots and a truffle orchard.

Next time you visit the restaurant or tasting room, make sure you ask for a map and explore the gardens. They are there for you to enjoy and we would like them to be part of your experience of us. You can try our gardens fresh seasonal produce in your next carefully prepared and presented Pegasus Bay restaurant meal. While our dishes change regularly, to keep our menu dynamic and exciting, it has a stability and reliability due to our long-standing staff. Sadly, our maitre d’, Bora Hong, is leaving us after 8 years but, happily, this is to have a baby. Her replacement is the highly experienced Lauren McCunnell. Heike Bauer, who has been with us for 23 years, fronts our tasting room.

The restaurant will be closed for holidays between 16 July and 9 August but during this time the tasting room will remain open so please feel free to pop in at any time. You are sure of a warm welcome. Remember, if you want to dine it is best to reserve by telephoning 03 314 6869 ext 1.

From the Prescription Pad

Unless you are a hermit and choose to live a solitary existence in an unmarked cave, you can’t have escaped the recent kiwi debate about legalising cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes, which comes after the parliamentary debacle of permitting and then effectively banning synthetic recreational drugs. I don’t wish to get involved in the pros and cons of cannabinoids and similar substances, but I would like to point out that they, like other drugs that alter behaviour, judgement, and ability to function normally, have their effects by acting on specific receptors in the brain. Like their more general psychosocial effects, their contributions to road and industrial accidents and deaths are largely unknown because there isn’t a rapid, easily administered, test for their quantification. The potential problem they pose gets pushed into the “too hard basket” although there is ongoing pressure to allow such psychoactive drugs more liberal use.

In contrast, the concentration of breath alcohol is so easily measured that it is at risk of being blamed for a multitude of problems when it may not be the sole or even the main contributor to many. Politicians are under increasing pressure to curb its sale and distribution. In November 2014, the government lowered the legal limit for adult drivers from 80 to 50mg/100ml. Those who opposed the move claimed the problem of alcohol-related road accidents and deaths largely related to drivers significantly over 80mg/ml and that the drop to 50mg/ml would unnecessarily restrict, and inconvenience very many responsible citizens. What happened? The festive season immediately following the introduction of the new regulations had by far the worst death toll ever and this statistic has been topped each year since. When you look at the figures, it’s clear that lowering the legal blood alcohol for driving has been totally ineffective. Do you hear anything about this? No, there has been deafening silence from the anti-alcohol lobby although they continue to clamour for increasing restrictions on its availability.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting that the legal limit for driving be increased to 80mg/ml, but I find it curious that politicians are being pressurised to loosen restrictions on one psychoactive substance and tighten them on another. Western society and the Christian religion have had a long association with alcoholic beverages and they could be said to be part of our tradition. Current evidence, however, suggests that humans have made wine since Neolithic times and for at least 8000 years. Thus, wine dates back to the dawn of the agricultural revolution, when people stopped being hunter/gatherers and took up a more settled way of life. Given that much of Europe only became habitable about 11,000 years ago, following the last ice age, this is an enormous period of stable coexistence between humans and wine. What is behind this and why has it persisted until the present?

Unlike drugs, mentioned above, alcohol is a food, i.e. it is metabolised in the body to produce energy. It has been estimated that in rural France, prior to the First World War, rural workers obtained a third of their daily calories from wine. In other words, it was a major foodstuff and it was consumed with other foods. While the proportion of energy derived from wine has decreased in Europe, wine has retained its place in everyday living and it is generally consumed during and around mealtimes. As such, European wine styles have developed to accompany and match other regional foods, often as a flavour enhancer. Many colonists, such as those from Britain, didn’t come from traditional wine producing countries and, although they drank, it was usually beer or spirits. Meals themselves were unaccompanied by alcohol.

Wine was a relatively recent introduction to the new world and has tended to be used as a beverage at functions and parties, rather than having a place at the table. With one or two notable exceptions, such as Champagne, wine is still not much used as a beverage in Europe. New-World wines have tended to reflect this difference, being fruitier and less austere than their Old-World counterparts. Functionality affects use and, I’m sure you will agree, it is easier to overindulge while drinking a beverage than when sipping a glass of wine with a meal. It’s not that Europeans don’t overindulge but, when they do, it’s more likely to be with something other than wine. Doubtless, you know that overindulgence is a sin, and the price of this sin is a hangover.

Interestingly, the humble hangover has become the holy grail of a host of researchers, and in the last 5 or 6 years there have been more papers published on this subject than in the previous three decades. Alcohol is a diuretic and many drinkers believe a hangover results from dehydration. Most people, however, find drinking a lot of water does little apart from disturbing their and their partner’s sleep. Others swear by anti-inflammatory tablets but there is little hard evidence to support their use. There are several proprietary preparations with a variety of ingredients that are now touted to help prevent hangovers, including a compound called dihydromyricetin that is derived from the oriental raisin tree. Coincidentally, I have one such tree growing in my garden and, while I am tempted to try it, I think my best course of action is to avoid a hangover by sticking to moderate amounts of wine to complement and enhance my dinner. Hangover is a usually the result of binge drinking and available evidence suggests this is the most destructive drinking pattern. You are better to have a modest amount of wine regularly and, despite what you might read and be told by your doctor, there is absolutely no scientific evidence to show alcohol free days, weeks or months are beneficial to your health, unless you are an alcoholic.

I’m not trying to tell you how to drink, what wine you should drink or what food you should drink it with. I’m not even trying to tell you who you should drink it with! But I am advising you to be moderate, and one of the best ways of doing that is to appreciate really good wine and enjoy it with food, with emphasis on the enjoyment. After all, in these days of burgeoning obesity, most of us don’t need to take our calories in liquid form, we drink wine because it enriches our lives and gives us enormous pleasure. Surely, that’s the reason our love affair has been going on over 8000 years.


Recent Seasons

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 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 sooner than usual but the ripening had been precocious so the pinot noir was excellent. Later noble botrytis favoured the aromatic whites, such as riesling and gewürztraminers. A spring frost reduced the crop of the 2015 vintage but the rest of the growing season was excellent and the resulting wines are well balanced and have good concentration. A perfect summer and a warm dry autumn in 2016 enabled us to pick each variety at the optimum time and it has been an exceptional vintage for both reds and whites.

Current Vintages / Releases

All bottles 750ml unless otherwise stated


750 ml and Magnum 1.5 lt
In some classic wine producing regions, such as Germany and Alsace, riesling is their top grape variety and many international wine writers regard it as the king of white wines.  We think that the soils and climate of the Waipara Valley are ideally suited to this grape.  Our riesling has been awarded super classic status by Michael Cooper in his book Classic Wines of New Zealand and this 2015 shows why. Reviews are just starting to arrive.

5 stars 95/100 Rich, concentrated and flavoursome ... Powerful with character.
Bob Campbell MW, bobcampbell.nz NZ

5 stars 18.5+/20 Elegantly rich and luscious… fine textured, refreshing palate… long lingering finish. 
Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz NZ

93/100 Off-dry and packed with richness ...Wealth of ripe peach and mango ... Really weighty and concentrated
Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com USA


As mentioned under ‘Recent Seasons’ this was an exceptional vintage. This wine is unashamedly made in the big boned Alsatian style.

96/100  Explodes with flavour and texture .... A fantastic wine!
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier,
camerondouglasms.blogspot.co.nz NZ

5 stars 18.5+/20 Exotic tropical fruits, root ginger, Turkish delight… Rich, luscious, powerful… Medium dry. 
Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz NZ

5 stars Powerful… Beautifully perfumed… Unusual complexity and harmony… Delicious. 
Michael Cooper, michaelcooper.co.nz NZ


Pegasus Bay is one of a handful of New Zealand wineries to follow the Bordeaux tradition of blending sauvignon blanc with semillon, fermenting them with the grapes natural yeasts, and aging the wine on it yeast deposit (sur lie) for 6 months, the semillon portion being in old French oak barrels. This fills out the palate, adds a creamy texture and gives the wine more cellaring potential, making it a true food wine rather than just a party pleaser. Accordingly, we hold this wine back and regularly release it when many straight sauvignon blancs of the same vintage are over the hill.

5 stars  19/20  Mouth filling, floavoursome, deep core ... Greengages, nectarines, gooseberry ... Subtle layer of nutty oak ... rich, vibrant and bold.
Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz NZ

93/100  Very concentrated ... Wealth of ripe lemon, cool fruits and bright tropical fruit.
Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com USA

5 stars  Smoky richness with a long sustained finish ... Will evolve into an intricate, layered wine.
Winestate Magazine AUS

Dry, richly textual ... Consistently one of the South Island's most distinctive whites ... Aging superlatively well for up to 10 years.
Joelle Thompson, joellethompson.com NZ


Pegasus Bay Chardonnays come from old low yielding vines that tend to produce a very concentrated wine. In the tradition of great white Burgundy, the juice is 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.  Unfortunately, they often sell out before the reviews arrive.  As this wine is being released for the first time in this newsletter we do not have any reviews but here are some of our cellar notes:

"Citrus, melon and stone fruit with a hint of struck match.  Toast and brioche savoury notes, intense fruit concentration but a spine of refreshing flinty minerality and acidity keep it tight and focused."


Magnum 1.5 lt
This was made in the same way as the 2016 Chardonnay mentioned above.

5 stars  Distinguished… palate weighty, sweet-fruited and smooth… long, savoury… delicious.. 
Winestate Magazine AUS

18.5/20 It’s not often you find a chardonnay as good as this one… complex, dry, richly flavoursome… super delicious… outstanding potential. 
Joelle Thompson, Drinksbiz Magazine NZ

5 star 18.5/20 Elegantly concentrated… Intense and complex flavoured. 
Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz NZ

5 stars Outstanding, sophisticated… one of the country’s best Chardonnays… Very generous… Seamless. 
Michael Cooper, michaelcooper.co.nz, Listener Magazine NZ


We have a tiny plot of muscat à petits grains, a variety that is used in Alsace and the Rhône Valley. It is used to make Muscat Beaumes de Venise in the latter place (see Fortissimo). This 2016 Muscat has the intensity of Muscat Beaumes de Venise but is made in a drier style. We restrict sale to our mail order and cellar door customers. We think it is very special but as it is not a general release we do not have any reviews. Here are some cellar notes.

“Baked pears, pawpaw, citrus flowers, organge zest, cinnamon, root ginger and butterscotch … mouth filling and unctuous… seam of minerality and a tangy acidity balance its off-dry finish”.


This is only the second Pegasus Bay Pinot Gris that we have released and it was the result of exceptional vintage conditions (see 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.

94/100  Complex aromas and flavours, honey, poached pears and apples ... Lush, rich, sweet and with the texture of melted butter ... Long and engaging finish.
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier,
camerondouglasms.blogspot.co.nz NZ

Top Value. The Donaldson family of Waipara sure know how to make pinot gris… Toasty, creamy/buttery nose… toffee, apricot… maple syrup… long and rich with a good finish. 
WineNZ Magazine NZ

Excellent. Beeswax, honey, fig and marzipan… Utterly different but fascinating. 
Mark Henderson, Otago Daily Times NZ

Deliciously concentrated… baked quince and baked pear… works magically with blue cheese. 
Dish Magazine NZ


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 is then matured for 18 months in oak barriques from artisan Burgundian coopers. While only a baby, this is already starting to strut its stuff and it was one of only three top scoring kiwi Pinot Noirs in a line up in UK's Decanter Magazine.

96/100 Wow! Fabulous, complex bouquet of broody dark red berries, layers of mineral and savoury nuances ... Juicy, lush, generous and complex ... Very fine tannins.
Decanter Magazine, UK

95/100  Rich, ripe ... dense... plum, liquorice and Christmas cake flavours ... underlyging power and a lengthy finish
Bob Campbell MW, bobcampbell.nz NZ

5 stars  18.5/20  Gently concentrated, harmonious ... Complex, Savoury, smooth.
Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz NZ


Magnum 1.5 lt
This Pinot and the others mentioned below were made in the same way as the 2014 above but they have been held back before release because of the larger bottles.  At a large tasting of New Zealand pinot noirs held by Decanter Magazine in London, it was one of only a handful that was rated as "outstanding".  It has also been rated as the best New Zealand and Australian wine uder $A80 tasted during 2017.

96/100 Focused red cherry ... Impeccably mineral ... Grand finish ... Masterfully crafted expression of an exceptional site.
Tyson Stelzer's Australian and New Zealand Wines of the year 2017, tysonstelzer.com AUS

95/100  Vibrant with floral nuances ... Suave structure and poise, showing layers and layers of intensity.
Philip Tuck, MW, Decanter Magazine UK

5 stars 96/100 Silken textural wine ... Extraordinarily lingering finish demonstrating real power.  Supremely elegant. 
Bob Campbell MW, bobcampbell.nz NZ


Jeroboam 3 lt
This wine has now matured beautifully in the large bottle format and is now just the thing for that special celebration. 

96/100  A sense of real depth ... mobile tannins and the sort of structual complexity and completeness that is the envy of most other NZ pinot noir makers.
Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com USA

5 stars  91/100  Full-flavoured ... plum, spice,black cherry, floral/violet ... savoury and mineral.  Mouthfilling with obvious power and a lengthy finish.  Consistently top wine.
Bob Campbell MW, bobswinereviews.com  NZ

92+/100  Stunning perfume ... beautifully elegant and ethereal ... silky tannins ... Finishes long.
Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, erobertparker.com 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. As it is being released for the first time on this newsletter we have not received any reviews but here are some cellar notes. 

"Abundant blackberries, dark plums, cassis and mocha ... Hints of vanilla, spice, cigar box and game ... Rich, smooth and succulent with a muscular backbone of ripe tannins ... a savoury aftertaste"


Magnum 1.5 lt
This wine was made in the same way as the 2016 mentioned above. Although it comes from a cooler season, the Indian summer and the prolonged hang time (see under 'Recent Seasons') have produced a wine that has surprising ripe fruit "sweetness".  It has matured nicely in magnum and is ready to drink.  Here are some of our cellar notes from a recent tasting to give you some idea of its development:

"... Ripe fruit flavours, suggesting purple plum, cassis and wild blackberry, supported by a underlay of cigar smoke, vanilla pod, chocolate mocha and spice... lively charm without being ponderous but with a satisfyingly dry finish".



Reserve Wines

All bottles 750ml unless otherwise stated


Bel Canto is possible to make only in certain years. It is made from riesling with almost the same ripeness as that used for Aria, but it is fermented to dryness. Because of the low crop this wine has extra concentration. Despite its youth, it is certainly ready to drink but it will cellar well. 

94/100 Enticing… core of citrus flavours… Manuka honey, wildflowers and minerality, lovely… long. 
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier,
camerondouglasms.blogspot.co.nz NZ

94/100  Rich and complex layers of flavour ... Grapefruit, marmalade, quince and honey.
Phil Parker, OnMas Magazine NZ

94/100  Powerful ... Structure is impeccably judged, reining in massive amounts of flavour perfectly.
Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com USA

93/100  Flavoursome with honey, toast, ginger and floral flavours... A rich and complex wine that should develop well. 
Bob Campbell MW, bobswinereviews.com  NZ

5 stars 18.5/20  Dense heart packed with harmoniously integrated flavours ... Real body and persistence.
Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz NZ


Magnum 1.5 lt
Because of the vintage conditions this wine had more noble botrytis than the Bel Canto above.

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, bobcampbell.nz NZ

19/20 Harmoniously intertwined flavours of ripe citrus fruits, marmalade, honey, musk and minerality. Smooth texture with considerable power and drive. 
Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz 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 ... fasinatingly complex.
Mark Henderson, Otago Daily Times NZ


750 ml and Magnum 1.5 lt
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 of such (see under 'Recent Seasons'), in making this wine we hand-selected only bunches that had 30% or more of noble botrytis.

5 stas 19/20 Exotic, citrus fruits and florals flow with honey and musk. Excellent acidity and tension to match the unctuousness. 
Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz NZ

96/100  Lemon, orange, honey, peach and apples.  Delicious with complexity and great length.
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier,
camerondouglasms.blogspot.co.nz NZ

5 stars 95/100 Peach, honey, mango, pineapple, liquorice and exotic spice. Yum! 
Bob Campbell MW, bobcampbell.nz NZ

5 stars Wow… Luscious, tangy, honeysuckle and spice soaked… Cleansing yet indulgent at the same time. 
Yvonne Lorkin, yvonnelorkin.com NZ

5 stars  Excellent balance ... Pure, rich and long.
WineNZ Magazine NZ


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 and this is only the third vintage that we have produced since 2011. Late in the season we carefully hand selected only the most perfectly shrivelled 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. 

5 stars 18.5/20  Concentrated core of ripe exotic tropical fruits... deliciously rich, nearly unctuous... lingering finish.
Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz NZ

5 stars 96/100  Concentrated, luscious ... Bush honey, pineapple, ginger and ripe peach ... Very lengthy finish.
Bob Campbell MW, bobcampbell.nz NZ

PEGASUS BAY FINALE 2014 - New Release

375 ml
Finale is a barrel fermented wine in the style of Sauternes and is only made in special years.  Due to the exceptional conditions during the latter part of the vintage (see under 'Recent Seasons'), we selected only the most beautifully noble botrytic sauvignon blanc berries to make this wine.  The smll amount of juice obtained was fermented by the grapes natural yeasts in artisan French oak barriques and matured in these.  As it is being released for the first time on this newsletter we have not received any reviews but here are our cellar notes:

"A complex array of aromas and flavours ... peach, apricot, lychee and passionfruit with hints of brioche, hazelnut, marmalade and butterscotch.  Rich and unctuous but a refreshing spine of acidity and perfect balance".  


375 ml
This wine is made in the style of Muscat Beaumes de Venise (see Pegasus Bay Muscat) and is what the French call a Vin Doux Naturel or wine natural sweetness. A small amount of spirit is added to stop the fermentation and retain some of the grapes natural sugars. We have made only a tiny amount and as it is solely available through our cellar door and this mailing list, we only have one review.

5 stars 18.5/20  Intense aromas of must, fresh grapes and herbs with lifted floral notes ... Dryish and medium bodied ... Soft, refined acidity ... Mineral and smoke on the finish.
Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz NZ


750 ml and Magnum 1.5 lt 
This wine is selection of the barrels that we feel best express the vintage and our terroir.

"Citrus and stone fruits (peach and nectarine) with underlying savoury impressions of brioche, toast and struck match complexity.  Mouthy filling and powerful with a core of minerality and acidity which draws out the finish".


750 ml and Magnum 1.5 lt
We only produce Prima Donna Pinot Noir in exceptional years as mentioned in 'Recent Seasons', 2013 was certainly one such.  It was made in the same way as Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2015 mentioned above.  Prima Donna is a blend of the barrels that we feel best reflect the vintage and our unique terroir.  It mainly comes from our oldest, lowest cropping vines that are non-grafted.  As it has only recently been released the reviews are just starting to appear but this is what leading UK wine writer Matthew Jukes has to say about it.

"It is one of the greatest wines that I have ever seen from this country.  Satiate your palate ... and cement this wine in your mind for all time".

96/100  Deliciously rich dark cherry aromas and flavours amid silky, refined long-form tannins.  A great wine, in every aspect.
Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com USA


Jeroboam 3 lt
As mentioned in 'Recent Seasons', this wine is the product of a beautifully warm and early vintage.

95/100 Powerful mix of flavours with a haunting floral note… Intriguing savoury/forest/rustic character. Delicious.
Bob Campbell MW, bobcampbell.nz NZ

93/100  Complex…terrific depth and intensity…solid tannic spine for ageing.
Steve Tanzer, internationalwinecellar.com USA

5 stars Great finesse… savoury, supple... deep plum, cherry, spice and nut ... Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz NZ.
Michael Cooper, Buyers’ Guide to New Zealand Wines 2014. NZ


750 ml
As with Prima Donna, Maestro is prodced only in special years and this is the first we have produced since 2009.  As usual, this one is a blend of the barrels of merlot, cabernet and malbec that we feel best reflect the vintage and our terrior.  As it is has only recently been released we have only received a couple of reviews.

94/100 Dark red berry fruits, plums, blackberries, violets and brown spices ... Organic earthy quality, complex ... Tannins and a lot of structure ... Lengthy finish and still very youthful.
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier,
camerondouglasms.blogspot.co.nz NZ

93/100 Bright violet-like fragrance, rich dark berry fruits.  Regal tannins and pristine blueberry flavours.  A superb mid-weight flavoursome red.
Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com USA

Download the Autumn → Newsletter

Pegasus Bay

Are you over 18?

To enter this website you must be of legal drinking age.

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