Reaching maturity in style

As your years tick by you will come to realise that there’s only one thing worse than reaching maturity-that’s not making it!-and if you can do it in style then so much the better. In the vinous world most bottles never get there as about 98% are consumed within a week of crossing the counter. There are good reasons for this as many wine lovers do not have the place, purse or patience for cellaring their favourite drops. For most of those wines that are sculled back prematurely, it’s not a tragedy because they are made for early consumption and don’t really have much potential to improve with age. However, Pegasus Bay wines are made to put away, which is why we tend to release them later than most wineries. We hold them back until we feel that they are ready to drink but it doesn’t mean that they won’t improve further with careful cellaring. This will usually bring out a range of fascinating characters that are not present earlier on.

We recognise that some of our valued customers don’t have storage facilities or simply can’t resist the temptation to drink our wines early. Accordingly, for a number of years, we have been stashing away a small supply of selected bottles from each vintage. We intend to start releasing these in our spring newsletter each year and hence there are three such ‘aged releases’ on offer in this little bulletin.

Just a few months back one of the most influential internet wine sites in the world,, listed their 10 best value for money wines in the world and there was only a single New Zealand bottle that made the cut.
Guess what it was; a little old Pegasus Bay Riesling. What about that! The gurus that made the judgement clearly appreciated its ability to age but they didn’t have one to try that had been carefully cellared for 10 years. If you don’t have access to these special aged wines then this is a perfect opportunity to try them (see the order form on this newsletter).

Pegasus sings with the Stars

They say that birds of a feather flock together and this certainly came true when Pegasus and Mercury both soared with the stars one Saturday afternoon last February. This winged mythical pair teamed up with the Canterbury Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Michael Joel), Kiwi superstar tenor Simon O’Neill, Australian baritone José Carbó and Tai-American soprano Ariya Sawadivong to present a concert of some of the greatest hits of both classical and popular opera. As mercury threatened to reach 30°C in the Pegasus Bay natural amphitheatre, light cloud cover and a refreshing breeze reined in his flight and provided perfect conditions for this musical highlight. Pegasus Bay had paired with the CSO through their ‘Player Partnership Programme’ to make this ‘PwC Opera in the Vines’ event happen.

Before the concert ‘Mrs Pegasus’ (Christine Donaldson, chorus girl) and José (one of the principles) realised that years earlier they had sung together in Donizetti’s opera, ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’. What a surprise!

And what was the concert at Pegasus Bay really like? The press review said “beautiful music, performed by top artists in an idyllic setting”... “all washed down with fabulous wine and food”... “first class event”. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Part of the crowd on the upper amphitheatre at the opera concert

It is only a truffling matter

Our flying horse is proud of his record of having had Pegasus Bay Restaurant named as top of class on seven occasions in the annual Cuisine Restaurant Awards and he is tickled pink to be one of a small number judged worthy of a chef’s ‘Hat’. He is not, however, going to rest on his laurels. This year the restaurant has put on a number of special dinners, including a foraged food event, a wild food day and a feast for the opera mentioned above. It is planning another very special day on August 13 and this should be no trifling matter. Canterbury has become the Kiwi province with the largest area planted in truffle producing trees and that is going to be celebrated in style. There will not only be a range of special dishes cooked with truffles but it will be possible for some of the lucky feasters to actually go on a truffle hunt. Yes, they will have the excitement of seeing how the truffles are snuffled out by man’s best friend and see exactly what they are like in the raw. Be sure not to miss out on this exceptional day by contacting

But our hard-working restaurant staff needs a break so that the restaurant will be closed between 18 July and 10 August inclusive. During this time, however, the tasting room will be open so feel free to pop in at any stage. We would love to see you. If coming to the restaurant for a for a meal, it is best to reserve by calling 03 314 6869 ext 1 to be sure of securing a place.

The life of the leaf

The pundits say that our universe is about 14 billion years old but analysis of rocks shows that significant amounts of oxygen, which is essential for life, didn’t appear in earth’s atmosphere until a mere 500 million years ago. By using a chemical reaction known as photosynthesis, plants convert the energy in sunlight into the chemical energy on which they and all animals, including ourselves, depend for growth and survival. Oxygen is a by-product of this photosynthesis and its appearance was of fundamental importance to the development of animal life. In turn, the process of photosynthesis is entirely dependent on chlorophyll that is a very attractive green. It’s a salutary thought but if this nifty little chemical substance hadn’t developed 500 million years ago then none of us would be here and the earth might look much like the barren surface of Mars, which brings me to the real hero of all this, the humble leaf.

Leaves come in all shapes and sizes but the most popular and practical model, the leaf blade, is constructed like a sheet of paper with upper and lower skins sandwiching a thinly spread layer of chlorophyll containing cells. These are supplied with a vascular system or series of veins that bring the leaves water and essential minerals and take away the energy containing carbohydrates that they are busy making. This is exactly how the grapevine leaf is structured and operates with xylem fluid coming up from the roots and phloem being taken back down to them and to the rest of the plant so that the vine can grow, become woody, store carbohydrates and, of course, produce all those succulent, flavoursome berries that we can turn into wine.

The fire of autumn at Pegasus Bay

Being deciduous, grapes lose their leaves in winter and the vineyard is full of skeletal, dead-looking vines. In the spring the buds split open and the first leaves start to appear. Young leaves are pale green, tender and very sensitive to frost, which causes the viticulturist to lose sleep on cold nights. As the weeks pass the leaves become darker green and tougher. The reason for the change in colour is the increasing levels of chlorophyll. Young leaves are initially a drain on the plant’s energy reserves, using up carbohydrates stored in its woody parts from the previous year’s growth. It takes several weeks before a new leaf matures and has sufficient chlorophyll to put energy back into the plant, allowing it to contribute to the vine’s growth and health.

But a leaf is not just a solar panel; it is living tissue and its surface is covered in microscopic pores that can be opened or closed. When they are open the leaf transpires or ‘breathes’ and in the process it loses moisture. This loss is greater at higher temperatures. If it becomes excessive it will cause the leaf to wilt and possibly die. Leaves protect against this by gradually narrowing their pores. Grapevines close their pores above 30°C and leaf metabolism stops. This is one of the reasons that really hot climates don’t favour viticulture.

In photosynthesising and producing oxygen, plants absorb carbon dioxide, which is why vineyards are like mini-forests, helping reduce greenhouse gases. Fermentation of the grapes, however, releases carbon dioxide so that overall the process from vine to wine is considered to be carbon neutral.

But all living things, including leaves, eventually die. Like people, however, the useful life of a leaf is usually shorter than its actual life and after several months the energy production of a leaf drops off, it goes into semi-retirement. Its slack is taken up by younger leaves that have developed further up that year’s shoot, which has been growing upwards towards the light. The bunches of grapes form near the base of that shoot and depend on the leaves above for ripening. This is a high energy demanding process and a general rule of thumb is that 8 to 9 leaves are needed per bunch so the viticulturist has to be careful not to trim the shoots too short or to allow excessive fruit. These will only reduce ripening and affect the quality of the wine.

The gold of autumn at Pegasus Bay

While the green swaths of spring and summer vineyards are picturesque, their splendour is outdone by the colours of autumn. As the leaves senesce they lose their chlorophyll, becoming golden and more translucent. The senescing leaves of black grapes often show red tinges. Seen against the light they can present a spectacular mosaic of gold and scarlet. Eventually, the leave blade, that giver of all life, flutters to the ground where it forms a carpet that gradually goes brown. Even then, it doesn’t waste its life-giving energy but gives it up to the soil, which it enriches and replenishes as it decomposes. This is part of nature’s way of kick-starting the circle of life the following spring. Everything that lives owes a debt of gratitude to the humble leaf.

2016: The mother of all vintages

A couple of months back the Pegasus Bay crew finished picking the 2016 vintage, which turned out to be one of the most remarkable that we have experienced in the last 30 years. The whole growing season was dominated by the ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) phenomenon. This is largely controlled by heating of the eastern Pacific Ocean by undersea volcanoes off the western coast of the Americas. New Zealand normally has a dominant airflow from west to east (the roaring 40s), as a result of the direction of the Earth’s rotation. This is accentuated in an El Niño season as the heat is transferred to the Western Pacific air, which then rises through the atmosphere, sucking in and further stoking the roaring 40s. The result? – more westerly winds than normal and in the South island this means that it is wetter on the West Coast and drier and warmer east of the Main Divide.

At Pegasus Bay we had a warm spring that resulted in a good flowering and a large potential crop ‘setting’ on the vines. Over the beautiful summer, we embarked on a major program of cutting off much of the crop so that the vines would be capable of ripening what was left. In spite of our best efforts, we ended up with somewhat more remaining than we had intended. At an early stage we knew we had too many bunches and that they were big. What fooled us, however, was that the average bunch was larger than we had ever experienced. Fortunately, El Niño went on and on and on, accentuating Waipara’s normally long dry autumn so that we were able to pick all varieties in perfect condition at exactly our predetermined optimal degree of ripeness.

Harvesting 2016 chardonnay at Pegasus Bay

The vintage is not all fun and it takes six – eight weeks of dedicated work by our vineyard staff to harvest all the fruit. There is a tremendous amount of sampling and analysing grapes as they ripen, protecting the crop by applying and removing nets as well as the picking and transporting the crop to the winery. But grapes don’t just turn themselves into wine and at the winery we had a hard-working winemaking team from France, Canada, Italy, and Germany as well as NZ. They sorted, crushed, pressed and fermented the fruit and were ably supported by our vital maintenance staff.
Wine, however, isn’t just made over vintage and the work will be ongoing over the ensuing months and years. It is likely to be 18 – 24 months before the first 2016 reds see the light of day.

And the result? – it is too early to be definitive but from the smiles on the faces of those hard workers who have tried these infant wines we think they could have the mother of all quality.

French winemaker François Robichon filling a barrel with 2016 red wine at Pegasus Bay

From the Prescription Pad

What season of the year do you like best and why? I know that we all have our own takes on this question but for me it is autumn. It’s that succession of mellow days that does it; when the rage has gone out of the sun but it is still warm and ripe fruits lie within easy reach. Yes, autumn is a season of cornucopia, when all the hard vineyard work of the previous 12 months comes to a satisfying conclusion. But to get there the flowers have to be pollinated and the tiny progeny of that union, initially no larger than a green pinhead, have to grow, soften, change colour and swell to produce the delicious ripe grapes that we all love to snack on at harvest. Pop one in your mouth a month or so earlier, however, and it won’t be a pleasant experience. Your face will pucker up as a tsunami of bitterness and acidity hit your taste buds. It’s the same with all fruits; green they taste yuck and ripe they are decadently delicious. It is part of nature’s plan to stop birds and animals from consuming fruit before the seeds have matured. There are many changes that occur during the ripening process of grapes but two of the most fundamental are that the high concentrations of acid gradually fall while the levels of sugar rise and the vigneron plans to harvest when the balance of these two is optimal.

While there are many acids involved in this ripening process, the main one is tartaric acid but another very significant one is malic acid. Tartaric is very stable and during fermentation of grape juice, when yeasts consume the sugar and turn it into alcohol and carbon dioxide, the tartaric remains unchanged. While most people refer to this process simply as ‘fermentation’ winemakers call it ‘primary fermentation’ because there is another and more subtle form of fermentation that is called ‘secondary fermentation’ or ‘malolactic fermentation’ (MLF). Malic acid is a dibasic acid. This just means that each molecule has two acid sites on it. Malolactic fermentation, which is carried out by natural bacteria in the wine, converts malic acid into lactic acid the latter has only one acid site per molecule. Hence, the secondary fermentation decreases the wine’s acidity and in the process it also releases carbon dioxide.

But hang on, I can hear you say, lactic acid: that’s what’s in sour milk, right? Yes, but there are different types of malolactic bacteria and some are used to make yoghurt, which you have to admit is pretty tasty. It’s true that some wines that have been through MLF, especially if they are white, can have a milky character when young. Others, such as chardonnay, can taste buttery or butterscotch-like, which is due to MLF producing a natural chemical compound called diacetyl. So MLF not only decreases the acid content of wine but it can also increase complexity and change the flavour. The result depends on which type of bacteria is used. Many winemakers add a cultured commercial clone, which is the safe and easy thing to do. Others, such as us, allow the process to occur naturally using the grape’s and wine’s indigenous bacteria. These tend to be specific to individual vineyard sites. This is slower and riskier than simply adding a commercial culture but it can produce more exciting results. At Pegasus Bay we are lucky to have indigenous MLF bacteria that we feel suit our grapes and our wine styles.

MLF can occur at any stage in a wine’s life; from just after harvest until after it has been bottled. If it is the latter, then it is a disaster because the wine will be fizzy, cloudy and altered in taste. Some winemakers encourage MLF during primary fermentation and may add cultured bacteria at that stage. This is easier and safer than doing it later. Others, like ourselves, wait and let it happen naturally, which will be in the late spring or early summer when the warmer weather encourages bacterial growth. Should you be around our winery at that time you could be excused if you thought Armageddon was at hand.

The build-up of carbon dioxide in the barrels causes the bungs to be blown out, accompanied by canon-like explosions and wild fountains of wine hurtling towards the sky. As we don’t like to waste our wine, this is not our favoured way of learning that MLF has kicked in. Hence, from spring onwards we regularly gently ease the bungs out and carefully listen for ‘a satisfied sigh’ as the gas gently escapes. This lets us know it is time to replace the airtight bungs with one-way valves that can let the carbon dioxide find its way out without all that drama.

The timing of MLF can also affect the taste of wine. If it occurs during or shortly after primary fermentation the wine tends to be fruitier and have a more confectionery-like character compared with later MLF, which is a little denser, more savoury and has more refined tannins. As you can see, MLF is not a ‘one size fits all’ process and it doesn’t suit all wine varieties and styles. All red wines go through MLF as otherwise they may be unstable and the process can occur in the bottle. Aromatic white wines, such as riesling, gewürztraminer, muscat and sauvignon blanc, are generally prevented from going through MLF because it lessens or destroys their varietal exuberance and purity. Chardonnay is often put through MLF, particularly if its acidity is high, as in cool climate. If it is grown in a hot climate then MLF may lower the acidity too much and make the wine seem fat and flabby. Generally speaking, hot climate white wines of other varieties are not allowed to go through MLF for the same reason.

MLF produces a variety of other naturally occurring chemicals, including histamine. Histamine can trigger migraine, which is why red wines can precipitate headaches in susceptible people. Some chardonnays may do the same thing, depending on whether they have been through MLF. However, being a neurologist, I know that a wide variety of things can trigger migraine attacks and that in many people the cause remains a mystery. MLF is a complicated business itself and still holds many mysteries. Even thinking about them is enough to bring on a headache so I’ll just slip off, put my feet up and have a glass of pinot noir. I do have occasional migraines but fortunately wine is not a trigger and may even relieve them!

Good health,

Recent Seasons

The weather of the 2006 vintage was very even throughout the growing season, resulting in balanced wines from good, but not excessive, crops. 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. From February, however, 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 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 early-season ripening had been precocious and the harvested fruit was physiologically ripe. Later noble botrytis favoured the aromatic whites. 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.

Current Vintages / Releases

All bottles 750ml unless otherwise stated.


750 ml and Magnum 1.5 lt
One of the marvellous things about riesling is its spectacular ability to age. As it matures it develops a unique peacock’s tail of shimmering, iridescent aromas and flavours that ascend beyond its exuberant youthful fruitiness. We felt privileged that last year 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’. As mentioned above in ‘REACHING MATURITY IN STYLE’, the internationally regarded website chose a Pegasus Bay Riesling as one of the 10 best value for money wines in the world. Due to the special vintage conditions we regard our 2014 riesling as one of our best. The reviews are just starting to roll in.

5 stars 18.5+/20   Elegantly intense… harmoniously intertwined… rich core of lime, honeysuckle, herbs and musk unfolding orange fruit and marmalade…
Raymond Chan, NZ


After this wine was first released in 2007 it was awarded five stars by Decanter Magazine (UK), Cuisine Magazine (NZ), wine writers and gained top place in a large riesling tasting carried out by WineNZ Magazine to mentioned just a few accolades. We believe that it has aged beautifully and rather than repeat all those old evaluations we will give you the impressions from a recent tasting.

95/100 Shows bottled integration complexity… Very beguiling… Powerful flavours, apples, citrus, honey, toasty, lime-like.… Wonderfully complex and delicious wine… A must try… Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, NZ 


As mentioned on page 6 under ‘Recent Seasons’, a portion of the fruit developed late-season botrytis. This has concentrated and enhanced the wine making it particularly Alsatian like.

5 stars 96/100   Rich Alsace-style… masses of flavour and richly textured…seriously good… medium dry style.  Bob Campbell MW, NZ

95/100   Perfumed nougat, burnt roses, brulée, 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


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 oak barrels. This tones 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 intend, a food wine and not just a cheeky little drink to be sipped at parties instead of a cocktail. In addition, the semillon adds longevity enabling the wine to develop special complexity and interest with cellaring. Accordingly, we hold this wine back and regularly release it when most sauvignon blancs of the same vintage have gone over the hill.

5 stars  95/100 An intense white blend… packed with ripe citrus and fruit flavours against a background of smoky, toasty and gun flint characters. Very distinctive. Bob Campbell MW, NZ

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 Great concentration of ripe fruit and tropical flavours. Excellent length. Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, USA



Magnum 1.5 lt
Like our Chardonnay 2013, the 750 ml 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

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


A number of years back we decided to plant a small plot of muscat vines; not just any old muscat but muscat à petits grains, which is used to make the famous Muscat Beaumes de Venise in the Rhône Valley. This wine has the intensity of Muscat Beaumes de Venise but is made in a drier style. We have very little so, as with the only other vintage that we have made, we are restricting it to our mail order and cellar door customers. We are very excited by it but as it is not a general release we do not have any reviews. Here are some cellar notes:

Ripe cantaloupe melon, citrus flowers, orange zest, cinnamon, crushed root ginger and sandalwood... mouth filling and unctuous... 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 ‘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. The reviews are just starting to appear.

18/20 Unctuous… decadently rich and opulent… oranges, exotic tropical fruits, marmalade… burnished honey, crystallised fruits and toffee. Raymond Chan, 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 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 completeness 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. Mouth filling with obvious 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

91/100 Intense… savoury… Richly textured… very slight rustic influence that helps make it stand out from the crowd. Bob Campbell MW, NZ

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


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… 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


Before being cellared this wine showed its potential in the following reviews.

5 stars  95/100 Concentrated and powerful Bob Campbell MW, Gourmet Traveller. AUS

5 stars 95/100 Delivers real potential to stretch pinot to the limit of aroma, flavour and structure. Nick Stock, WBN Magazine. AUS

92/100 Superb! Neil Martin, Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate. USA

92/100 …Sophisticated and complex… Terrific cut… Excellent spine. Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar. USA

We have tasted it recently and we feel it has developed beautifully with layers of bottle-age savoury complexity to match its exciting but mellow fruit flavours.


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 this is being released for the first time we do not have any reviews but here are some cellar notes:

Wild blackberries, purple plums, cassis, and chocolate mocha… underlying vanilla pod, spice, roasted nuts and a savoury hint of black olive tapenade…. rich, muscular… ripe tannins.


Magnum 1.5 lt
This wine was made in exactly the same way as the 2013 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


Exceptional vintage conditions in late autumn (see ‘Recent Seasons’) meant that merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc did not have the concentration for long ageing and we thus did not make any Pegasus Bay Merlot Cabernet 2014. The earlier ripening Malbec, however, was picked in perfect condition and has made an exceptional wine. This is the first time we have made it as a single varietal. As is being released for the first time in this newsletter we do not have any wine reviews but we think it is pretty smart. Here are our cellar notes:

Purple plums, blackberries, cranberries… savoury hint of freshly roasted coffee beans and roasted game.… unashamedly mouth filling, broad shouldered and muscular, plush tannins… spicy finish.

Reserve Wines


750 ml and Magnum 1.5 lt
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. 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 certainly ready to drink but we feel 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 (see ‘Recent Seasons’). In making this wine we hand-selected only bunches that had 30% or more of noble botrytis. Although this wine has only recently been released reviews are starting to appear.

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

4.5 stars  Finely poised… Fresh, citrusy, peachy, honeyed flavours, concentrated and long. Winestate Magazine. AUS

PEGASUS BAY ARIA 2013 New Release

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… 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 apricot flavours with spicy tones. Rebecca Gibb MW, NZ

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 and this 2014 (see ‘Recent Seasons’) is the only one we have produced since 2011. 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 was only recently released, reviews are just starting to appear.

5 stars  Beautifully rich apricots/honey aromas and flavours... Marmalade-like... Lush super-rich finish. Winestate Magazine. AUS 


375 ml
Finale is made in the style of French Sauternes. We select 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 is 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 


We only 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.

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

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, Robert USA


Magnum 1.5 lt
95/100 Powerful mix of flavours with a haunting floral note… Intriguing savoury/forest/rustic character. Delicious. Bob Campbell MW, NZ

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

5 stars   Great finesse...savoury, supple…deep plum, cherry, spice and nut…lasting finish.  Michael Cooper, Buyers’ Guide to New Zealand Wines 2014. NZ


Jeroboam 3 lt
This wine is just the thing for that very special anniversary and it has matured to perfection.

5 stars  Judged one of the top 100 wines from over 3500 tasted...Finer than Central Otago... Robert Geddes MW, Australasian Wine Vintages

5 stars  19.5+/20 Decadently rich and finely structured…Raymond Chan,

5 stars  Irresistible… Delicious… at its best from 2014 onwards. Michael Cooper, Buyers’ Guide to New Zealand Wines 2014. NZ

93/100 Savoury, zesty and length. James Suckling, USA

Top 100 Wines for Summer... Seriously intense. Metro Magazine. NZ


This wine has been awarded five stars or its equivalent by Decanter Magazine (UK), Winestate Magazine (AUS) and multiple wine writers. Rather than repeat all those here we will mention those from a recent tasting.

96/100 Complex with both primary red fruit and obvious complexity from bottle development… Shows dense complexity that is only reserved for fine wine… Fabulous example of Pinot Noir. Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, 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