Vintage 2017

Ask any wine merchant what is the best vintage of a wine and you can predict the response; it is the vintage they are currently selling. If you don’t believe the wine merchant then why should you trust the winemaker? The answer, of course, is that you shouldn’t. Having said that, if we say anything positive about the 2017 grape harvest then we open ourselves to the criticism that we are talking up the vintage when many, if not most grape growing regions of New Zealand found it difficult. What was the problem? Quite simply, rain, and too much of it. Ironically, this followed perhaps the driest three consecutive grape growing seasons on the east coast of the country, where most of the vineyards are located. The downpour was largely the result of a feisty couple called Cook and Debbie who the Aussies sent our way. Yes, these cyclones went AWOL from the tropics and turned up in Oz where they wreaked havoc before tripping over the Tasman and giving the Kiwis a tickle up.

Luckily, when they eventually reached North Canterbury they were tiring and tottering along on their last legs but they were determined for us to have a drink with them. They plied us with a generous amount of liquid refreshment. If you are liable to drought, as we are, it generally means that you have freely draining soil so the drink they gave Pegasus Bay largely disappeared without being taken up by the vines. Prolonged humidity, however, tends to attract fungal growth on ripe fruit and we were not immune. So, when we say it was a “difficult” vintage, it means we had to do a lot of extra work in the vineyard, removing any substandard fruit, and stringently triaging what was brought to the winery to make certain only the best was used to make wine. Fortunately, by the time the wayward couple arrived, autumn was well underway so we achieved good ripeness and concentration in our wines. We are very happy with their quality although the quantity is well down because we were so fussy.

Vintage is a very busy time for both vineyard and winery and we are vitally dependent on the help of extra staff. Most of those in the vineyard live in North Canterbury but the majority in the winery come from overseas; young winemakers who flit in for 1 or 2 months to gain extra experience. In case you didn’t know, that little tilt in the Earth’s axis, in relation to our planet’s rotation around the sun, was put there for the convenience of winemakers, allowing them to come from the northern hemisphere to the southern during our autumn, aka their spring. That’s right, we get a head start on them and when we were harvesting our 2017 vintage their 2016 had just been safely tucked away in tanks and barrels in their home wineries. Their 2017 vintage won’t start until September or October. We are very grateful for their talents and effort.

The winery crew for vintage 2017. From the top left Adrien Lattard (Burgundy, France), Francois Robichon (Loire, France), Georgina Lowe (NZ), Spencer Hill (NZ), Mark Rose (NZ), Matteo Sacchetto (Asti, Italy), Courtney Gayer (Phillidelphia, USA), Marie-Christine Dufour (Canada/NZ), Pete Lidgard (NZ), Di Donaldson (NZ), Gaetan Rivoallan (Burgundy, France), Rosalind Reynolds (Phillidelphia, USA), Mat Donaldson (NZ)

The Travelling Market

Why travel when you can stay at home? No doubt you can think of 101 reasons why you would like to take a holiday far from the daily grind but when you are in the business of offering something for sale it doesn’t make a lot of sense to go to the end of the earth when you have keen buyers knocking at your door. That is what has happened in recent years as the world has discovered our country and inbound tourism has become big business. It is now New Zealand’s biggest single source of foreign exchange earning NZ$14–15 billion pa. Add to this more than NZ$20 billion spent by domestic tourists and you will see that no Kiwi can afford to ignore the travelling market. Like it or lump it, whatever you might do for a crust, your life will in some way be touched by tourism.

But there is a special type of tourist that more than just touches us at Pegasus Bay, it embraces us with passion and we love it. What is it? It’s you! Yes, if you’re reading this then you’re doubtless the type of person that puts a smile on our faces; you’re a wine tourist. Wine tourists are so important to wineries and the country that Tourism New Zealand defines them as a special category of individuals and has made an in-depth study of them. But what exactly is a wine tourist? It’s somebody who during their trip takes the time to visit a winery. It turns out that almost one in seven international visitors are wine tourists and, like you, they are rather special people. It seems that they like to pamper themselves and have a decent getaway, staying 30% longer and spending 30% more than the average tourist. The greatest number of international wine tourists have traditionally come from Australia, North America, UK, or continental Europe but in the last few years there has been a surge in the numbers coming from our Asian neighbours, particularly China and Japan. As you might expect, most (90%) arrive and depart on their own wheels and they usually stay in hotels or motels.

There are two main age groups represented, the decade starting from 25 years and the over 55’s. Perhaps those aged 35 to 54 are kept busy and poor by their kids. Wine drinkers tend to be sociable people and this applies to wine tourists with over 80% being accompanied by others. And what about wine tourists and sex? There are no surprises here, men and women seem to be into it with equal, or almost equal, enthusiasm. It’s true, Tourism New Zealand’s figures show that women outnumber men but we live in a liberal society so it’s not surprising there should be a slight excess of women as wine tourists.

As mentioned, it’s highly likely that you have been a wine tourist and hopefully you will have been enthused about that region’s wines by the experience. Knowing something about the place and the people gives you a great understanding and respect for their produce. Not only do wine tourists buy the local wines as they travel through the area but they will seek them out when they go home, sharing them with family and friends. If, like us, you export to other regions and countries, you will have to be involved in servicing that market but what a boon it is to have your loyal followers already there and doing some of that work for you. Pegasus Bay loves wine and food enthusiasts. It’s our raison d’être. Please send as many as possible our way and don’t forget to call in yourself.

Pegasus Bay Judged TOP Pinot Noir

Highflying Australian wine writer, Tyson Stelzer, has just published his extensive review of Australian and New Zealand wines of The Year 2017 and named his 150 top drops ( In it, Pegasus Bay 2013 Pinot Noir (scored 96/100) is rated the top wine selling for under $80 and has a price tag of $A75 across the ditch. The only Pinot Noir to score higher (97/100) was Felton Road Block 5 2014 ($A 115), while Bell Hill 2012 ($A 185), Craggy Range Aroha Te Muna 2014 ($A 140), Ata Rangi ($A 90) and Felton Road Bannockburn ($A 75) also scored 96/100. Tyson rated all other Kiwi and Australian pinot noirs below this upper echelon. We still have a few bottles of our 2013 Pinot Noir that we have held back especially for our mail order customers to purchase (see page 9) but you will need to be quick.

Letting it all Hang Out

A bunch of pinot noir hang out after rain

Many years ago, brains sharper than ours noted that Europe’s best wines came from the northern most regions where it was possible to ripen the grape varieties from which they were made. For example, the best merlot and cabernet sauvignon based wines were made in Bordeaux, the best chenin blanc in the Loire Valley, the best pinot noir and chardonnay in Burgundy, the best riesling in Alsace and Germany, etc. It wasn’t that these grape varieties couldn’t be grown and ripened further south but that the wines produced from them didn’t generally attain the same quality as those from the classical areas that had made these wine styles famous. Over hundreds of years, people had found which grape varieties made the best wine in their own area but usually this was in the coolest region that they would reliably ripen.

New Zealand doesn’t have hundreds of years of vinous history to fall back on but in the last 40 – 50 years our viticultural map has been completely redrawn. In 1970, all commercial vineyards in our country were situated from Hawke’s Bay northward. Why was that? It was because it was thought it was too cold to grow grapes and make wine south of that. Fast forward to today; 85% of New Zealand’s wine comes from the South Island. Why is that? It is because it is now realised that the South Island’s climate is excellent for growing the cool climate styles in which our country excels.

“But,” you may say, “Spain, Italy and the South of France get much hotter in the summer than New Zealand and they make large amounts of good wine. What’s so special about a cool climate.”

To answer this conundrum, we need to look at what happens during ripening process of fruit. The only purpose of a plant producing fruit is to enlist the help of animals to spread its seeds. This wouldn’t work if the seeds were not mature when the fruit was ingested. Before this time, high acid and low sugar concentrations make the fruit unattractive. When ripe, these levels are reversed and the seeds in the pulpy interior of a grape berry are ready.

The warmer the climate the more rapidly this point is reached. But there is something else that provides extra enticement and that is flavour. The naturally occurring compounds that give different grape varieties, and hence wines made from them, their individual signatures are attached to the skin of the berry and tend to be slower to develop than the changes within. Thus, grown in a hot climate the fruit will be ripe and have balanced levels of sugar and acid before full flavour has been expressed. Such wines can be quite agreeable but do not excite the palate as much those that have been left on the vine longer and have realized their true flavour potential. Should you attempt this in a hot climate by simply picking later, the resultant wine will be too alcoholic, fat and flat. It will lack personality and zest. To extend the hang time, i.e. the ripening period, and still have a balanced wine you need a cooler climate. Because of New Zealand’s maritime and temperate climate our grape vines have a six-week longer growing period, i.e. time from bud burst to leaf fall, than those at equivalent latitudes in Europe. We are not suggesting that you cannot make good wines in warm or hot climates but these require different grape varieties than those best suited to cool climate winemaking.

When people compare New Zealand and European wines of the same variety, they often comment that the Kiwi versions are more flavoursome. Harvesters of tall poppies are inclined to put a negative slant on the local product because of this. So often they are comparing wines of about the same price point. Why? Because to go to the top of the European price pyramid is just too expensive. Climb to the summit and you will savour the superb flavour of success. The Europeans are not shy about dishing out flavour if you open your wallet right out.

Because of its latitude and proximity to the sea, the Waipara Valley has one of the longest growing seasons and hang times in New Zealand, with the vines coming into leaf well before more southern viticultural areas but often starting harvest later.

Relatively speaking, New Zealand’s cool climate wines are a bargain compared with their European counterparts and those who recognise this are prepared to pay a premium to get them. It explains why this country’s relatively new and burgeoning industry, which produces about 1% of the world’s wine, earned NZ$1.6 billion in exports last year compared with AU$1.8 billion for our Aussie cousins who make approximately 8%. The Brits are prepared to pay a higher average price per litre for Kiwi wine than that of any other country and it’s not because they’re just trying to be nice. Wine is now New Zealand’s fifth largest export currency earner. Not too bad, given that it started from somewhere near ground zero about 25 years back. All of this is based on the flavours of cool climate viticulture and they are the result Kiwis letting it all hang out!

Why don’t you Run/Walk the Vines?

Autumn colours in Pegasus Bay vineyard

How fit are you? There are plenty of studies that show wine drinkers are generally fitter than those who prefer to drink beer or spirits so the chances are you like running or walking. Now is your chance to indulge that passion, get some exercise, have some fun, see the Pegasus Bay Vineyard and support a very worthwhile charity all in one go. On 28 January 2018, we will be holding a fun run/walk with proceeds going to the New Zealand Brain Research Institute. There will be full details in the next newsletter but pencil this date into your diary now and visit

The Restaurant Rests

Pegasus Bay Restaurant will be closed from Monday 24 July until Tuesday 15 August inclusive to give our hard-working restaurant staff their holidays. Over this time, however, the tasting room will remain open between 10am and 5pm and we would be delighted to see you. Once the restaurant reopens in August it will be open seven days a week but remember, any time you are coming to dine, it pays to telephone to be certain of a place in the restaurant (03 3146869 ext 1)

 Foggy morning at the Pegasus Bay Restaurant

Special Age to Release!

In keeping with our policy of maturing selected special wines in our cellars and offering them to our mail order customers we are releasing Pegasus Bay Riesling 2007 and the Pinot Noir 2007 in this spring newsletter.

From the Prescription Pad

I became a neurologist because I was fascinated by the workings of the most amazing thing on earth, the human brain. A basic understanding of brain structure was known from at least the first or second century A.D. and this was greatly increased during the renaissance by autopsies carried out by Leonardo da Vinci and others. It was gradually appreciated that the brain was the seat of consciousness, of the mind, and that we only receive information about the world around us by way of impulses passed to our brains by nerves. Our sight, hearing, smell, taste and bodily feelings don’t occur in the organs where we seem to experience them but only in our brains and minds. This has led to philosophers and scientists questioning whether our minds exist separately to our brains and how we can know if the external world really exists, given that our only experience of it is by way of patterns of nerve impulses within our brains. In essence, there is no way that we can be certain that the world outside our minds is real. It raises a host of awkward questions about souls, religions, beliefs and even our own existence. Most of us, however, don’t get bogged down in such hypothetical speculation. We just go about our daily business, accepting that our experiences are real, even although we may accept that our brains and minds create our world, ideas and beliefs; our personal reality. However, neuroscience now shows us that our beliefs can alter that reality by altering brain function.

When I was a schoolboy I studied hypnosis and became quite adept at hypnotising my classmates. I soon realised that only a proportion of the class could be hypnotised and what marked them out was their suggestibility. To be put into a hypnotic trance they had to believe that it was going to happen and then it would. It was all a question of convincing them. There was no easier way to do this than by witnessing it happen to one of their classmates and I had several willing subjects. I eventually became bored with hypnotism because it was apparent that it was all about suggestibility; that it was a hoax. If you believed in something strongly enough then your brain could make it happen to you. The ability for belief to alter brain function lies behind the success of many alternative therapies in medicine and paramedical disciplines and underlies the efficacy of many “healthy” pastimes and pursuits.

Modern brain imaging, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scanning and neurophysiological studies have shown how this works. Hypnosis, placebos, and suggestion are not only able to cause or relieve pain and distress but actually alter the activity in brain regions associated with these distressing symptoms. It is not that the subjects are imagining the toxic or beneficial responses but the brain actually makes them happen. These can be accompanied by appropriate alterations in other physiological measurements, such as heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, pupil size and the like. Similarly, such imaging shows that your mind can pre-determine the pleasure or disappointment that you experience from a thing or a situation. Subjects given the same wine, not only say that they enjoy it more if they are told that it is expensive but the “pleasure centres” in their brains become more active on MRI scan than if they are told it is cheap. Their expectation has turned into reality and they have enjoyed it more. This occurs not only with Joe Average but also with wine buffs. The only reliable way to evaluate the worth of something subjective, i.e. which can’t be scientifically measured, is to do the assessment blind or else you will probably get what you expect. We are all biased in one way or another.

Which brings me to the topic of fashions and fads. We all like to explore and to seek out the new and exciting but this is particularly the territory of the young, to whom everything is new. About a decade ago the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) syndrome was at its height and the sales of chardonnay plummeted. Some vignerons pulled out this variety but others, like us, continued growing and making it. Now the trend has reversed and it is difficult to match supply with demand. Chardonnay, like riesling, sauvignon blanc, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir, to mention only a few, make classic wines and when something is a classic there is usually a good reason for it. Many of the grape varieties that are currently being experimented with in New Zealand are not classics and there is usually a good reason why this is so. Not infrequently, it is because they produce wine that is undistinguished. As consumers, it’s your duty to experiment but make sure you are objective, i.e. scientific, about it. Don’t throw out your baby with the bathwater just because there is a newer kid next door. Remember, it takes about as long to bring a vine to its true potential as it does for you to raise your child to adulthood! Grapevines can outlive us all and become part of our landscape. In this way, they are more like families and even the land itself; they are intergenerational. Generally speaking, the longer they live then the better the wine so I believe that as a relatively young wine region, North Canterbury has an exciting future.


Recent Seasons

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 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


Classic wine producing regions, such as Germany and Alsace, believe that 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 Wine of New Zealand and this 2015 shows why. Reviews are just starting to arrive.

5 stars 18.5+/20 Elegantly rich and luscious… fine textured, refreshingpalate… long lingering finish.
Raymond Chan, NZ

93/100 Wild flowers, honeysuckle and a dash of marmalade… delicate complexity… lengthy finish.
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, NZ

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


Magnum 1.5 lt
Due to the special vintage conditions (see under ‘Recent Seasons’), we regard our 2014 riesling as one of our best.

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

93/100 Richly-textured… Benchmark varietal flavours. 
Bob Campbell MW, NZ

92/100 Core of intensity and complexity… Delicious.
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, NZ

Excellent to Outstanding. Powerful, complex… great palate richness…long and dry.
Mark Henderson, Otago Daily Times. NZ


2007 was a classic vintage for Pegasus Bay Riesling although crop levels were considerably less than in a normal vintage. As always we have aimed to maintain the wine’s integrity and purity by sensitive wine making. The fermentation has been stopped off-dry with plenty of natural acidity to keep it lively and crisp.

95/100 "Pegasus Bay Riesling charmed us all... I loved that wine! It has so much going for it...”
Bob Campbell MW, Gourmet Traveller Wine. AUS

5 stars Top wine of tasting. NZ


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

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


Pegasus Bay is one of a handful of New Zealand wineries to follow the Bordelaise tradition of blending these two grape varieties. Fermentation is by the grapes indigenous yeasts and it is aged 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 complexity. Accordingly, we hold this wine back and regularly release it when much sauvignon blanc of the same vintage is going over the hill.

91+/100 Fascinating… leaves the taste buds quivering… smooth, dry, long… an infant.
Stephen Tanzer, USA

91/100 Intensely scented, honey drizzle peaches, lemon marmalade, musk perfume… Medium – full-bodied, decadent… Great persistence.
Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, USA

4.5 stars …Concentrated, ripe peach and passionfruit… Excellent complexity… Rich, dry finish… Very distinctive.
Michael Cooper, NZ

4.5 stars  Powerful, complex, fragrant, full body… Delicious.
Winestate Magazine. AUS


750 ml and Magnum 1.5 lt
Pegasus Bay Chardonnays come from old low yielding vines that tend 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  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, NZ

5 stars Outstanding, sophisticated… one of the country’s best Chardonnays… Very generous… long savoury finish.
Michael Cooper,, Listener Magazine. NZ


Several 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 in Alsace and also in the Rhône Valley where it is used to make Muscat Beaumes de Venise (see Fortissimo). This wine has the intensity of Muscat Beaumes de Venise but is made in a drier style. We have very little so 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 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. The reviews are just starting to appear.

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

93/100 Quite floral… White pepper and freshly baked pears and apples… Creamy, lush, sweet and delicious.
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, 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 was then matured for 18 months in oak barriques from artisan Burgundian coopers. It is only a baby but is already starting to strut its stuff. At a recent 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 tasted during 2017 (see ‘Pegasus Bay Judged Top Pinot Noir’).

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

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

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


Magnum 1.5 lt
This pinot and the 2010 mentioned below were made in the same way as the 2013 but they have been held back before release because of the larger bottles.

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

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


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


This wine was made in the same way as the 2013 mentioned above. It was named by Decanter Magazine as one of NZ is top 10 wines.

5 stars Dense, almost chewy, appealing strong plum and spicy aromatics.
Bob Campbell MW, Decanter Magazine. UK

94/100 Powerful flavour and structure… Long-lasting in the mouth. Turned white.
Australian Financial Review. AUS

5 stars 94/100 Full bodied, rich… Ripe plum, dark berry and mixed spice.
Gourmet Traveller Wine. AUS


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 wine was from a very warm year it is only just starting to flex its muscles. It has only recently been released the reviews are just starting to appear.

5 stars … Blackcurrant… black plum and juicy red currant… finely judged powdery tannins… Excellent length.
Winestate Magazine. AUS

Excellent Perfumed red fruits, tangy berry and chocolate Deceptively powerful: appealing now but with potential.
Mark Henderson, Otago Daily Times. NZ

4.5 stars … Youthful… strong, vibrant blackcurrant, plum and spice… Finely integrated oak, ripe, supple tannins… Excellent depth, complexity and harmony.
Michael Cooper, NZ


Magnum 1.5 lt
This wine was made in the same way as the 2013 mentioned above. It has matured nicely in magnum and is ready to drink but can be expected to cellar well for many years.

4 star Full-coloured… Fresh plum, spice and nutty oak flavours… Excellent complexity and depth.
Michael Cooper, NZ


Exceptional vintage conditions in late autumn (see under ‘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 it has only been released to our mail order customers, 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

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. As it has just been released we only have a single review.

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


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

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

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

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

93/100 Bold and rich… Honey, syrup, sweet citrus apple tart and poached orchard fruits. Delicious.
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, 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. As this wine is released for the first time on this newsletter we do not have any reviews. Here are some cellar notes.

“… Ripe cantaloupe melon, mango, pineapple, lychees, and Manuka honey… rich and unctuous… streak of minerality and fine acidity that keep it fresh, lively and refined, drawing out its lingering after flavours.”


375 ml
Finale is made in the style of French Sauternes and is a blend of semillon and sauvignon blanc. We selected only the most beautifully noble botrytic berries and the small amount of juice obtained was fermented in French artisan oak barriques, using the grapes’ indigenous yeasts. Subsequently the wine was matured in these barrels.

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

5 stars Super-rich peach and apricot… Oily texture, lush raisiny, superbly sustained finish.
Winestate Magazine. AUS

EXCELLENT A flavour explosion in the mouth… Honey, orange and then toffee.
Mark Henderson, Otago Daily Times. NZ

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


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 do not have any wine reviews but here are some cellar notes.

Tropical fruits, lychee, quince, spice, citrus, zest and curd… opulent and rich.”



Magnum 1.5 lt
We only produce Prima Donna Pinot Noir in exceptional years. It is made in the same way as Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2013. The wine 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.

95/100 Powerful mix of flavours with a haunting floral note… Intriguing savoury/forest/rustic character. Delicious.
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, USA

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


Jeroboam 3 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



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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