Surviving the Vintage

Picking Chardonnay in the Terrace Block at Pegasus Bay Vineyard

So, you thought you would like to do a vintage? In the vineyard, in the winery or a mixture of both? Working over harvest sounds romantic, doesn’t it? No doubt you have been inspired by a picture of happy pickers, snipping bunches of delicious grapes while they wend their way along rows of sun-drenched vines. All the while they are chatting, laughing and sharing in the general bonhomie that comes with country life, especially when mother nature gives up the rich bounty of her autumn produce. Or perhaps you fancy treading the bunches in a large stone trough, preferably by candlelight and after a delicious dinner, washed down with ample quantities of the estate’s finest. This is a task best done to music, with groups of nubile couples linked arm in arm, dancing, rather than just stamping around. In case you’re tempted to answer that job ad, you should be aware that reality may come up short of your expectations.

For most vineyards, vintage is a time of intense activity, lasting one or two months. It is the culmination of all the previous year’s work. The quality of the wines depends very much on what happens over harvest so it can be a busy and stressful period, with little time for fun and games. To survive the vintage and come out with decent wine requires good organisation, a lot of hard yakka and more than a little bit of luck. Let’s take a peek at what happens on a typical day. You get up at sparrow’s fart and head out into the vineyard. A warm breeze is coming from the norwest but an afternoon southerly front is predicted. The race is on and hopefully you can beat the southerly. Today you will be picking in a block of chardonnay, but this isn’t just occurring on a whim. For 1-2 months, random samples of bunches from all the blocks in the vineyard have been tasted and analysed in the lab, the aim being to pick each plot when optimally ripe and flavoursome. But the decision to harvest a particular block will also depend on the weather forecast, bird damage and the presence of any rot. Yesterday, a team removed the bird nets and, this morning, staff were here before you, putting picking bins along the length of the rows. You take a pair of snips, start cutting off bunches and put them into a bucket, making certain you leave behind any green or damaged fruit. You are moving along a row in a small team and, before long, your bucket needs emptying into one of the waiting bins. The height at which the fruit hangs necessitates stooping slightly so by morning tea you’re feeling back muscles and joints that you didn’t know you had, while a newbie in the team inspects a self-inflicted snip in a fingertip. And so, it goes on, select, snip, drop, empty bucket and move along the row, while others stack the bins onto the back of a trailer. The only change in the rhythm is when you pop a delicious berry in your mouth. It is hot, tiring work but there is a lot happy chatter going on around you.

At 3PM the southerly arrives, bringing a hefty shower. You were prepared to carry on picking, but winemakers don’t want wet grapes so picking stops. You will have to finish this block in the morning but meanwhile you must help remove the nets for the rest of tomorrow’s picking. Now, untying and lifting the nets is really hard physical work but it has to be done because the forecast is good.

When it’s time to knock off, you foolishly call into the winery to see what is happening there and get roped into working on the vibrating sorting table. This is really a higher-level triage than that the pickers do. You stand at the table, picking out anything substandard as the fruit shakes and rotates its way past you before being fed into a bin by a conveyor belt. Only perfect grapes can go into the wine. By the time you are finished, you may feel well and truly shaken, if not stirred, by the continual vibration! When eventually you take your eyes off the sorting table and look around, you find that about you is a hive of activity. A machine is destemming red grapes, which are going into a vat to start fermentation. To keep it moist and healthy, someone is plunging the thick cap of skins, which has formed on the surface of an already fermenting vat. Other winery crew are draining a vat that has finished fermentation and putting the purple liquid into oak barrels. The air is redolent with the unmistakable, heady aroma of a new vintage in the making.

Working on the sorting table and conveyor belt.

You are about to leave but turn and note the chardonnay you were picking is being loaded into a press. Pressure mounts, the berries are squeezed and it’s with a sense of excitement you see the juice flow from the press. You walk into the winery to look at chardonnay picked the previous week, now part juice, part wine, fermenting happily in barrels. All fermentations in the winery need careful monitoring, as do all the different processes in the journey from grapevine to wine that occurs over vintage. Much of the winery equipment used over harvest lies idle for 10 months of the year so it is vital to use it effectively and efficiently. This means getting maximum use out of it while the fruit is coming in, which leads to long hours. Vintage crews, in vineyard and winery alike, frequently get up early and work late.

The extra staff Pegasus Bay takes on over vintage usually includes several young winemakers from overseas, most commonly Europe. They come for the experience but bring new ideas and perspectives. They work with our regular winery staff as a team and toil into the night, but then the vineyard crew starts earlier. We want our visitors to benefit from their experience and try to provide good wine and food that they enjoy at a long refectory table, well after many of you have gone to bed. Like all of us, they need to get through that crazy time called “vintage”. We try, however, to ensure they do more than just survive, giving them additional time relax and find the real New Zealand that exists outside our winery and vineyard!

The Pegasus Bay Vine Run

Our second Vine Run at Pegasus Bay was held on Sunday 27 January 2019 and was another roaring success, raising $26,000 for the NZ Brain Research Institute. Numbers were up, with over 500 runners or walkers tackling either the 6 or 10km route.

Our beloved MC, Andie Spargo, was back to warm up the crowd with his winemaking aerobics and other antics, and once the starters gun was fired, participants were entertained along the way by musicians including the Kaiapoi Brass Band, Christchurch Opera Club and the Aoraki String Quartet. There were even some confirmed sightings of the infamous Pegasus Werewolf to keep people on their toes! As the mercury hit 30 degrees, the weary athletes rehydrated at the finish, then relaxed on the lawns with a glass of their favourite Pegasus Bay wine, serenaded by the delightful sounds of Lyttelton artist Carmel Courtney and friends.

Once again, we’d like to thank all our amazing volunteers and friends, including the Friends of the Brain Institute (FBI), who helped make this event  possible. If you’re ready for a new challenge and want to support a very worthy cause, we’d love to see you next time! Follow us on Facebook or check the website for updates

Mike & Di Donaldson – race directors.

Mel Brew, chair of the FBI, and Mike Donaldson presenting a cheque for $26,000 to the New Zealand Brain Research Institute’s Commercial Director, Colin McDougall.

Château Mouton at Pegasus Bay?

Château Mouton, being one of Bordeaux’s five first growths, is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious vineyards in the world. The name is curious and just means the ‘Sheep Château’. We are uncertain how it really got its name, but one version is that it may have been planted on the site of an old sheep farm. At any rate, it was originally known as Château Brane-Mouton and in 1853 renamed Château Mouton Rothschild, it’s official title these days. One thing for certain is that you won’t find any sign of the woolly critters there these days; the real estate at Mouton is far too expensive for that.

On the other hand, should you visit our humble Pegasus Bay Vineyard you are very likely to run into sheep, hundreds of them. What are they doing there? They are helping us be eco-friendly and sustainable. Using them to eat the grasses and flowering plants that surround the grapes, saves us burning diesel and lessens tractor induced soil compaction, which is bad for our vines. In addition, they can help by eating the vine leaves, so-called “leaf plucking” that would otherwise have to be done by hand or machine.

But why would you want to remove vine leaves? Surely, you need the leaves to ripen the grapes? Yes, we need an adequate canopy of leaves, not only to grow and ripen grapes but also to allow the vine to increase in size and to provide it with energy. But we can have too much of a good thing and this applies to leaves around bunches of grapes. They shade the fruit, cut down air movement and increase humidity, all of which makes the bunches liable to fungal diseases and rot.

In addition, sunlight on grape berries aids ripening and helps eliminate green flavours. It also thickens the skin, which increases skin colour and tannin. It’s a bit like how your own skin reacts to sunshine, and how much you need or can stand will depend on your natural colouring. If you are light coloured you may be adversely affected by sunshine that wouldn’t bother someone with darker skin. Similarly, excess sun exposure can be especially bad for white grapes, resulting in loss of delicate flavours and natural acidity and the appearance of hard and bitter tannins in the wine. Like you, berries may actually become sunburned! A similar degree of exposure may benefit black grapes, giving the wine a deeper colour, richer mouth feel and better structure.

Merlot vine showing exposure of grapes to sunlight before leaf plucking

Sheep love grape leaves and will nibble them away from around unripe grapes. Such fruit tastes as bitter and horrible to them as it would to you. As sheep normally eat at ground level, they tend to strip the lower leaves from vines first, which is fortunate because that is where the fruit is hanging. The secret is to watch the sheep carefully so that they remove just as much leaf as you want and not more. When we get the desired result, we must move the sheep immediately or they will just continue to chomp up the canopy as high as they can reach. But, we never let them near ripe grapes; they love them just as much as you love the wine that they make.

Merlot vine after leaf plucking by sheep

The late Baron Philippe de Rothschild, owner of Château Mouton, was once asked whether there was money to be made out of wine. After brief reflection he replied, “Yes, there definitely is, but the first 100 years can be a bit difficult.” Perhaps the mouton got a taste for his grapes and that’s the real reason there are none around his Château nowadays. Unlike the Rothschild’s, we don’t have a personal bank to back us up to keep us afloat for a century, which is why we are prepared to be quite sheepish at times!

The Culinary Delights of Foraging

It is well known that the French are adventurous in their dietary habits, tucking into frogs’ legs, snails and the like. Their village markets contain wonderful arrays of culinary exotica such as figue de Barberie. These are the fruit of the prickly pear cactus and although they contain a lot of seeds, like a pomegranate, they are really juicy and delicious when ripe. People also eat the big flat leaves, which look a bit like dinner plates (yes, for the botanists amongst you, we do know they are really modified branches and the real leaves on cacti are their spikes, but we are just trying to make it simple). They are said to be tasty and nutritious, although we’ve never had the chance to try them. Several years back, however, our interest was pricked by a green leafed herb we saw in a French market. It was labelled pourpier. We bought some and took a back to our lodgings where we boiled it and ate it like spinach, finding its somewhat ice plant-like leaves most enjoyable. When we returned to NZ we found it growing in the garden, most commonly amongst cobblestones. A bit of research showed that it was purslane, which is related to portulaca, both common in flower gardens. Since then, we have had an interest in less common culinary plants, most of which can be found growing wild.

Wild pourpier/purslane is a commonly overlooked edible plant.

Happily, Pegasus Bay Restaurant head chef, Jackson Smith, and his kitchen staff share this passion and regularly use uncommon plants, herbs and spices in their dishes, most of which we grow or they forage. These include borage flowers, elderberry, lambs’ lettuce, three-cornered garlic, wild fennel, yarrow, chick weed, mellow flowers, wood sorrel, ice plant, coastal spinach, coastal celery, water-cress, nasturtium and miners’ lettuce.

Recently, the North Canterbury Winegrowers had ‘A Day in North Canterbury’ for hospitality and wine trade and, in the evening, a celebration of local and foraged foods was held at Pegasus Bay. Six chefs were each allotted a ‘hero’ ingredient, around which they were to form a special dish, and they were taken out by experienced foragers, Peter Langlands and Melany Wright. Their stunning creations included fish, crayfish, shellfish, rabbit, hare, venison and seaweed, as well as foraged herbs, vegetables, berries and fruits.

Next time you dine at Pegasus Bay Restaurant, look out not only for the fresh local ingredients but also the unusual, the new and the exciting. Mother nature’s bounty is there for the taking; you only have to be interested and inventive.

But even our dynamic kitchen and front of house teams need a break and our restaurant will be closed for holidays between 8 July and 1 August. During this time the tasting room will remain open so please feel free to pop in at any time. You are always sure of a warm welcome but remember, if you want to dine, it is best to reserve by telephoning 03 314 6869 ext 1 to avoid disappointment.

From the Prescription Pad

Perhaps you have heard about the great avocado heist that was in the news recently. Some commercial growers in Hawke’s Bay got a nasty surprise when they went to pick their crops. Their trees were bare! Large numbers of avocados have also been stolen in other regions as well and at least one orchard owner was set upon when he disturbed the thieves at work. Arrests have been made but some growers have resorted to locked gates, razor wire, electrified fences and vigilante groups. Avocados are easy to pick, valuable and readily disposed of from roadside stalls. The same applies to some other fruits that also have a habit of going ‘missing’. Usually, the loss is surreptitious, but occasionally it’s blatant. This has led some vendor’s of ‘pick your own’ fruit to ask clients to show self-restraint. One grower complained he was being inundated by parents, their kids and the old folk, who would gorge themselves silly and buy only 1 measly punnet of berries on leaving.

As a vineyard owner, you like to think you might be immune to such light-fingered behaviour. If you find your vines losing fruit, it’s more likely to be the work of our feathered friends but, in certain circumstances, vineyards can be vulnerable to 2-legged theft. Take the case of David Dunkenberger, from Virginia, USA. Last year, he decided to pick his vineyard before hurricane Florence destroyed it. Someone seems to have had the same idea because, when he arrived, the entire crop had vanished. Given the cropping level on many vineyards, the thieves might have had to snip off somewhere between 20,000 to 40,000 bunches per acre. Quite a task!

Generally, a vigneron can distinguish avian from human theft at a glance. Birds just eat the berries and leave the bunch stems on the vine whereas humans take the lot. In addition, one berry will generally fill a bird’s stomach, so loss of fruit tends to be patchy. However, a machine harvester works by shaking the berries off the vine so it’s possible severe bird damage could resemble the aftermath of machine harvesting. “But,” you may say, “surely no one would be so brazen as to steal grapes using a machine harvester!” Well, you would be wrong. Grape theft, using large commercial machines, has been reported from Germany and France. This hasn’t been restricted to isolated vineyards in the countryside, one of the most blatant thefts occurred right next to a large supermarket.

What drives such grape thefts? It’s money, of course, and the value of grapes in any season depends on their scarcity, amongst other things. Some European countries, including France, ban winemakers buying-in grapes to cover a shortfall, but recently this regulation has been relaxed in areas badly hit by hail and frost. Claims of fruit theft in these regions have been made. Some misappropriation may result from confusion, as many vineyards have multiple owners, each with a small patch of vines that are not clearly demarcated. Nonetheless, there are sufficient reports of grape disappearance to suggest many such losses are not accidental. One would expect that the best and hence most valuable plots would be particularly vulnerable. Most of these are in premium wine producing regions and grow the classical grape varieties that we are all so familiar with, such as pinot noir, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, riesling and the like.

Anyone is a target for thievery these days, but you become an increasingly attractive target the more you are worth. The grapes and wines of little-known varieties, regions or producers should be relatively safe but the greater the reputation, the greater their risk. This risk is not only one of product loss but of identity theft. A few newsletters back, I mentioned wine forgers, people who substitute cheap plonk for that of haut de gamme wine, even going to the extent of collecting the specially stamped or styled empty bottles of top producers.

Bottles of 1985 Château Haut Brion. Is the one on the left a forgery?

None of us is immune to this type of skulduggery. Some years ago, I bought a few bottles of a Bordeaux first growth, Château Haut Brion, some from a wine merchant and some at auction. Their delights are now a distant memory but, as a memoir, I retained a couple of empty bottles. Although they looked identical when purchased, they are now remarkably different, although they have been sitting side-by-side and should have aged similarly. One is a faded green while the other is a bright bronze/gold colour; the only colour in common being the wines’ year (the superb vintage of 1985), in bright black. Was it a forgery and, if so, did I pick it? Yes, I suspect it was and, no, I didn’t. But then, it was sealed under natural cork with all the vagaries of sub threshold mould taint and variation in random oxidation that this type of imperfect closure implies. Doubtless I would have put any disappointment down to this. When first growths put their wine under screw cap, every genuine bottle of the same vintage of a particular château’s wine will smell and taste the same, making it easier to catch out the rogues. But then, traditionalists are slow learners. Nevertheless, I’ll keep hoping.


Recent Seasons

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 aromas and flavours. A mild spring, a warm summer and a long lingering autumn created a perfect prelude to the 2013 vintage, which went off without a hitch. Autumn rain in 2014 resulted in some noble botrytis, benefiting rieslings and Finale. 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. Autumn rain in 2017 caused us to pick a little earlier than usual but naturally small berries and good physiological ripeness has given the wines extra concentration, vibrancy and poise.

Current Vintages / Releases

All bottles 750ml unless otherwise stated


750 ml and Magnum 1.5 lt
Like classic wine producing regions, such as Germany and Alsace, we take our rieslings seriously.  Pegasus Bay Riesling has been awarded super classic status by Michael Cooper in his book Classic Wines of New Zealand and this 2016 shows why.  As yet, we have only received two reviews.  It is made in the off-dry style.

18.5+/20 North Canterbury is one of the world's great Riesling regions and to call this wine "iconic" is wildly understated. 
Joelle Thompson, Drinksbiz Magazine NZ

93/100 Ripe lime and lemon ... flinty, sotny ... long build of concentrated citrus and stone fruit flavours.  Terrific depth
Nick Stock, 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, NZ

5 stars Very classy ... Beautifully perfumed ... Powerful ... Well spiced ... Full of personality ... Delicious.  
Winestate Magazine AUS

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

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


This classic French blend is more than just a punch in the snout from a bunch of herbs on steroids that follow up by hijacking the flavours off your plate.  It's a true table wine that will complement rather than compete with your food.  The sauvignon blanc flavours have been refined and the palate filled out and rounded off by the semillon, which also adds complexity, palate length and longevity.  There is no hurry to drink this wine and we hold it back to give some bottle maturity prior to offering it.

18.5/20  Elegant but intensely concentrated .... nectarines, greengages, gooseberry ... subtle layer of nutty lees and oak.
Raymond Chan, NZ

93/100 Very alluring bouquet ... Crisp and dry with core of ripe citrus anmd apple flavours ... Complexity ... Length and finish.
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, 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. This had produced a flinty, gun-smoke complexity which adds a savoury element. We have used only a minority of new barrels to minimize any oak character and emphasize the power of the fruit.  

It is being released for the first time in this newsletter but one reviewer had a sneak preview.

96/100 Impressive, vibrant and flinty white peach, grapefruit ... ripe melon, grilled nuts.  A great wine that is packed with interest.
Nick Stock, USA


Magnum 1.5 lt
This was made in the same way as the 2017 Chardonnay mentioned above.  

5 stars 19/20  Deep and densely packed core with a layer of mealy-nutty and flinty-mineral elements ... rich and luscious ... underlying power ... very long finish.
Raymond Chan, NZ

5 stars 95/100 Fresh amd flavoursome ... Marmalade, apricot, peach, brioche and flinty mineral flavours ... Complex ... Great texture and very lengthy finish.
Bob Campbell MW. NZ

Intense, urgent style ... Flinty complexity tones down over time ... Bright with attrctive sweetness and poise.


We have a tiny plot of muscat à petits grains, a variety that is used in Alsace and the Rhône Valley. This wine is made in an off-dry style and we think it is the best we have made to date.  As we restrict sale to our mail order and cellar door customers we usually don't get reviews but here are some cellar notes.

92/100  Aromatic, fruity and enticing with abundance of flowers, white fleshed fruits and exotic perfume ... Fleshy, juicy, ripe and spicy ... satin and coarse silk textures.
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, NZ

PEGASUS BAY PINOT NOIR 2016 - New release 

We use traditional Burgundian techniques to make our pinot noirs, 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. The reviews are just starting to come in but it is clear it is a big baby and will be a keeper.

94/100 Wild herbs, bracken, red fruits ... dense, succulent and seamlessly polished.  Long and taught.  Needs time.
Nick Stock, USA

94/100  Bold, strong perfume, dark berries, earthiness, truffle, cedar and clove ...Strong personality and very good.
Gary Walsh, AUS


Magnum 1.5 lt
This Pinot and the 2013 mentioned below were made in the same way as the 2016 above but they have been held back before release because of the larger bottles.  

96/100 Super vibrant ... Forest floor, toasted spices ... A core of pristine dark cherry ... Effortless depth that singles this out as a consistently great New Zealand Pinot Noir.
Nick Stock, USA

5 stars 19+/20  Beautifully elegant and harmonious, vibrant ... Dark red fruits ... Savoury plums, dark herbs and frangrant florals ... Long and sustained.
Raymond Chan, NZ

5 stars  Boldly aromatic in the darker fruited spectrum ... Blackberry, currant, plum, star anaise, liuquorice ... Long and generous ... Plenty of potential.
Winestate Magazine AUS


Jeroboam 3 lt
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 under $A80 (750ml) 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. AUS

96/100 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 textured wine ... Extraordinarily lingering finish demonstrating real power.  Supremely elegant.
Bob Campbell MW,  NZ


750ml and Magnum 1.5 lt
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.  

5 stars 18.5+/20  Concentrated ... Blackberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants,... spice Refined ...vibrant
Raymond Chan, NZ

5 stars  Dark, weighty ... Complexity ... Concentrated ... Depth and harmony.
Michael Cooper, The Listener Magazine NZ

Outstanding.  Dark fruits dance on the palate, filling every corner of the mouth.  Sumptuous ... Amazingly long and delicious finish.  You just don't wnat to put the glass down.
Mark Henderson, Otago Daily Times NZ


We only have a small patch of malbec and it normally is blended with our Merlot Cabernet but sometimes it deserves to be its own wine and this one shows why.  We think it is the best we have made and you can be the judge.  We don't have nay reviews but here are some cellar notes:

Generous aromas and flavours of black plums, cherries, cranberries, violets, vanilla and roast coffee beans ... mouth filling with ripe tannins that give structure and draw out the length.


Reserve Wines

All bottles 750ml unless otherwise stated


Bel Canto is possible to make only in certain years. The grapes have 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. It is drinking beautifully now but will cellar well. 

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

94/100 Enticing… core of citrus flavours… Manuka honey, wildflowers and minerality, lovely… long. 
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, 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, USA


Magnum 1.5 lt
Because of the vintage conditions this wine had more noble botrytis than the 2015 mentioned 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, 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 ... 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.  2016 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.

95/100  Alluring bouguet ... mandarin, lime flower and apple blossom ... intense ripe citrus and apple tart tartin.  Long and delicious.
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, The Shout Magazine NZ

93/100  Stunning, luscious, bright and mouth-watering.  Loaded with ripe tropical fruit underscored by tangerine zest.  Lingering finish.
Joe Czerwinski, USA

93/100  Rich lime-marmalade, peach and hints of honey ... Off-dry and very impressive.
Nick Stock, 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 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 19+/20  Concentrated core of ripe exotic tropical fruits... deliciously rich, nearly unctuous... lingering finish.
Raymond Chan, NZ

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

93/100  Lime, peach, marmalade and dried apricots ... Impressive concentration, luscious and balanced.  
Nick Stock, USA


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.  

5 stars 97/100  Layers of dried fruits, spice and exotic tropical flavours abd dimension and complexity Pure and powerful wine.
Bob Campbell MW, NZ

Outstanding.  Rich and mouth filling ... intense flavours linger endlessly ... Compelling stuff.
Mark Henderson, Otago Daily Times NZ


19.5/20  Powerful, intense ... Rich, succulent ... opulent flavours ... Great depth
Raymond Chan, NZ


375 ml


750 ml and Magnum 1.5 lt
This reserve wine was made in the same way as Pegasus Bay Chardonnay 2017 above but came from the chardonnay barrels that we feel best represented our vineyard and the vintage.  Virtuoso is made only in special years and 2016 was definitely one of these (see under 'Recent Seasons').  This is a refined but more powerful version of that wine and is just starting to come together.  We believe it will age very well.  The reviews are just starting to appear.

94/100  Very rich aromas, spiced pears grilled hazelnuts and brulee... Concentrated peaches and grapefruit.
Nick Stock, USA

Very distinctive ... Dry, firm, very youthful core, yet intense and rich in flavour and potential.
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, The Shout Magazine NZ


750 ml and Magnum 1.5 lt
We only produce Prima Donna Pinot Noir in exceptional years.  It was made in the same way as Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2016 mentioned above and Prima Donna 2012 below.  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 the wine is just being released on this newsletter the reviews are just starting to appear.

96/100  Grand, majestic and complex ... Expansive, entrancing style.  Black and red cherries, plums, earthy notes, woody spices and a wealth of pot-pourri and forest floor complexity ... Long succulent tannins.  Superb!  Good aging potential.
Nick Stock, USA


Jeroboam 3 lt
Just the thing for a special occasion.  This wine has matured beautifully and this is what the pundits had to say about it.

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

5 stars 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


Excellent/Outstanding  Concentrated yet not overblown ... Layers of flavour ... Sumptous ....
Mark Henderson, Otago Daily Times NZ


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.  

5 stars 19/20 Bold, fulsome, succulent ... Blackberry and plum ... Plenty of tannin ... Elegant sustained finish.
Raymond Chan, NZ

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, NZ

94/100 Inky red ... Impressive concentration and good weight ... Silken texture.  A seductive combination.
Bob Campbell MW, NZ

94/100 Rich dark chocolate and plums, blackberries and very integrated oak spice.  Superfine tannins.
Nick Stock, USA

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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