Pinot Noir – It Stems from the Grappe

Life is full of little quirks and things that seem irrelevant often turn out to be vital. Take the discovery of the cause of the rare Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The sub viral-sized infectious particles were discovered by investigating a similar weird neurological disorder in central highland cannibals in New Guinea so that when there was an epidemic of Creutzfeldt-Jakob in Britain in 1980’s the source was rapidly determined. It was due to humans eating beef from involuntary cannibal cows that were being fed infected meat meal made from other cows. Overnight, Mad Cow disease, which had previously been a medical and veterinary curiosity, became a household term.

There are innumerable similar examples but not all are to be found in the annals of medicine and science; many derive from folklore and are part of traditional practice. Yeast was used to make leaven bread for millennia prior to the discovery of microorganisms. A piece of the risen dough taken prior to cooking was put aside and used as a starter for the next batch. It is easy to see how such important discoveries are made and put into practice but there are others that leave the mind boggling; take the preparation of puffer or blower fish.

A few years ago three gentlemen were admitted to hospital in Japan with a life threatening condition brought on by eating the grilled testicles of a puffer fish in a restaurant. The puffer fish contains a nasty little natural chemical called tetrodotoxin, which paralyses your muscles so that you die of asphyxiation. They were saved by being put on a respirator until the toxin wore off but others haven’t been so lucky. Puffer fish are regarded as a traditional delicacy in Japan and a chef needs a special license to be allowed to prepare them. It is a complicated business and said to take years to master. How on earth was the technique discovered?

A pinot noir grappe or bunch stem after the bunch has been put through a dégrapper

There are plenty of traditional practices in winemaking and most were put into use well before the scientific principles underlying them were understood. One such is the use or non-use of what the French call the “grappe”. No, we’re not suggesting that the French make wine of anything other than grapes. In fact, in the EU it is illegal to call anything wine if it is not made from grapes. The French word for grape is “raisin” and the term for raisin is “raisin sec”, which simply means dried grape. A bunch of grapes is “grappe de raisins”, by which you will have deduced that “grappe” is a bunch. To be more precise, however, it is what we call the bunch stem or rachis; that many branching little thing that stares back at you accusingly once you have gobbled all of those delicious grapes. It looks like a miniature upside down tree and each of its many “branches” once held a grape while its single “trunk” was firmly attached to the grapevine.

The grappe is not just there to make an invitingly attractive display of the fruit for you. No, it is a living piece of the vine through which the plant feeds its life-giving sap to nourish and develop the berries. While it starts life as a soft green strand of tissue, towards the end of the season it hardens and becomes woody or lignified.

Just as you wouldn’t consider eating this uninviting-looking grappe, it is generally excluded from the winemaking process before fermentation. Why? Because it contains lots of tannins and during fermentation these are leached into the wine. This additional tannin makes most red and white wines taste excessively astringent or bitter. When making red wine the grappe is removed by putting the bunches through a machine that the French call a dégrapper (“destemmer” in English). As white grapes are pressed when they reach the winery and only the juice is fermented, the grappe is automatically excluded.

It is, however, common in Burgundy to ferment the red wine with some or all of the grape stems in the vats and this was tradition well before the science underlying its beneficial effect was understood.

The pinot noir grape used to make red Burgundy is unique in that it has only 5 different types of anthocyanins in its skin compared with other black/red grapes that have 15 different types. Anthocyanins are the natural molecules that give fruit red and purple colours. This means that pinot noir wine is naturally lighter in colour than that made from other black/red grapes. Tannins in grape berries are found in the skins and around the seeds. Those in the skin tend to be associated with anthocyanins so there is also less tannin in the skin of pinot noir and thus proportionately more seed tannin. That is where the grappe or bunch stem comes in handy. In some bygone age, a long forgotten Burgundian wine maker must have discovered that his pinot noir wine was better if he didn’t remove the grappes. Thus was born the process of “whole bunch” fermentation, which is now tradition in that part of France. Thus, some entire bunches, complete with their bunch stems, are put into the fermentation vats. We now know that the additional tannin forms molecular bonds with the anthocyanins and helps to stabilise the colour, making the wine a darker red that persists better as the wine matures in bottle. These tannins also help fill out the mouth structure and give the wine extra longevity.

A grappe with its pinot noir grapes

But all tannins were not created equal and those around the seeds and in the bunch stems tend to be greener and taste sharper than the more velvety skin variety. Given enough time on the vine, however, they change, becoming less aggressive and eventually “ripe”, mouth filling and satisfyingly dry. This is why good pinot noir producers not only have to worry about simple things, like the flavour of the grapes and their sugar and acid levels, to know when to pick but they are also fussy about the taste of their seeds and grappes. If you see us chewing seeds and bunch stems in the autumn don’t think we have gone completely barmy; it’s just that we are thoroughly obsessive about our pinot.

Friends or relatives in the UK?

What better way to wish people in the UK a happy festive season by arranging for them to be delivered a gift of Pegasus Bay wine.  The service is also available throughout the year; so simple but yet so classy.  Just email:

The Two Hatted Pegasus

When we first opened our Pegasus Bay Restaurant doors we never imagined that we would become one of the longest standing and most awarded restaurants in the South Island. Looking back, we are a little uncertain how it happened except that we know it has been due to the hard work of our dedicated staff. Inevitably, there have been personnel changes over the years but they have always been motivated to maintain the highest standard and the results of the latest Cuisine Good Food Awards clearly show this. For the ninth successive time that we have been assessed since these awards started in 2005, Pegasus Bay Restaurant has been judged winner of its category. Initially, there were only two categories for the whole of NZ and we were judged winner of one of them, the “Casual Dining” category. Our dining style was then, and still is, “casual” but our approach to food and wine is certainly not. The Good Food Awards booklet says that we make “the kind of food you’ll wish to eat every day, combining top-notch technique with a casual, unfussy style”, adding, “backed up by Pegasus Bay’s selection of outstanding wines.” In the words of Cuisine Magazine “wine knowledge, menu pairings, the integration of tasting opportunities at the table and the connection between the wine list and the menu are hallmarks here.”

The winning Pegasus Bay Restaurant team at the Cuisine Good Food Awards. From left to right Bora Hong, Belinda Donaldson and Teresa Pert

As if this accolade was not enough, Pegasus Bay was awarded two hats. The Cuisine Good Food Awards seems to be loosely based on the well-known French Michelin restaurant guide system that uses incognito judges who can arrive at any unexpected moment and subject the restaurant to their most demanding and secret of culinary inquisitions. Michelin awards between 1 to 3 stars (Cuisine between 1 to 3 hats) but to get even a single star a restaurant has to be a very high flyer. Quelle horreur should a restaurant lose one of its stars! It is likely to put the chefs and the owner in a major flap and induce serious depression. It is on record that even false rumour of impending loss has triggered suicide, which just shows how seriously the French take their grub. Fortunately the Kiwi temperament is a bit mellower but for us there is a downside to these awards. You see, the old nag in the stable out the back is a bit flighty and has always fancied herself as a bit of a high flyer. Her head swelled after she was awarded a single hat a year or two back. We had to cut a couple of holes for her ears to poke out but how on earth is she going to wear two hats? – All suggestions gratefully received.

But jesting beside we are exceptionally grateful to head chef Teresa Pert, maitre d’ Bora Hong, restaurant manager Belinda Donaldson and their kitchen and front of house teams for this wonderful result.

Yes, things have gone up quite a notch or two since Pegasus Bay opened the restaurant doors 24 years ago. Then, we had one chef and on his days off Chris Donaldson, aka Mrs Pegasus, not only had to run cellar door tastings and sales but had to set the tables, welcome the diners, rush to the upstairs kitchen, cook their meals, wait on the tables, work the till, clear up, wash the dishes and many other things besides. Doubtless the Cuisine judges would have taken their hats off to her for multitasking and effort but they would have made sure to take them away when they left!

We will be closed for 11 days between 23 December and 2 January. It is best to telephone 03 3146869 ext 1 to make a restaurant reservation, especially if it’s a weekend or holiday, but feel free to pop in and taste our range of wine any time. We will be delighted to see you.

From the Archives Then & Now

The first stage of the Pegasus Bay winery under construction - 1992

The Pegasus Bay winery and restaurant - 2016


From the Prescription Pad

It can’t have escaped your notice that these days the world is full of misinformation, misleading information, partial information and half truths. Unless you and I are careful we can easily jump to the wrong conclusions and make faulty decisions. This is nowhere more apparent than in the items we are fed from media chain. We are dished up the tasty titbits while the more substantive but less exciting parts of the carcass are tossed out to rot unnoticed. This tendency is not the sole prerogative of television, radio, social media or the press but it affects them all, more or less equally. Nor is it restricted to a particular topic or group of topics but I think that medicine, nutrition, “health food” and leisure come in for more than their fair share. There seems to be a never-ending stream of so-called professionals advising us on how to live our lives in order to become centenarians, all based on the rather dubious assumption that we would enjoy it if we got there. With many of the restrictions that are suggested, no, demanded of us, I’m sure that our lives will seem to stretch forever towards that rarely obtainable horizon; we may not live longer but it will certainly seem that way!

So much of this advice is based on shonky theory and so little on sound science. Often the problem is the misinterpretation of an association between two things as cause and effect. Just because we have been seen in the same place on a number of occasions it doesn’t mean that I caused you or that you caused me. There could be many different reasons why we were spotted together, including chance. Human minds, however, are analytical and seek reasons for associations. This isn’t bad; in fact, it’s a good thing because it has taught us so much about the world that we live in and the relationships between things. It only becomes a problem when we make associations of cause and effect that are unjustified by the evidence available and thus we become misled.

The Nobel Prize winner, Daniel Kahneman, in his book “Thinking Fast and Slow” explains how the fast thinking part of the mind (system 1) creates these cause and effect hypotheses quickly and automatically; indeed, it is always seeking such associations because a correct belief that one thing causes another gives us additional power. Thus, if we know that something causes a particular harm we will try to avoid it and the converse if the outcome is going to be beneficial. From infancy onwards your brain’s system 1 is continually scanning your environment looking for such cause and effect situations and attempting to profit from them. Thus, if you are walking and see a large ugly looking dog then you will probably avoid it whereas you might be tempted to pat a perky little poodle. Your system 1 could be mistaken as both dogs might be equally aggressive or friendly. This situation is reasonably clear cut but there are many that are less definite and they occur frequently in our everyday lives. In addition, the dog and danger/no danger association will have been in your brain since childhood, although doubtless it will have been modified over the years. Kahneman’s system 1, however, is forever seeking new cause and effect associations, even in time expired adults, like me. It is a built in safety device that is trying to help us control and benefit from our environments and situations. Without it the human race would have been dogs’ tucker and ceased to exist well before now. So this aspect of, system 1, which has many other properties, is generally good but it can also be a disadvantage if it erroneously assumes cause and effect from what is merely an association between one thing and another.

Kahneman defines another part of the mind as system 2, which is slow and methodical, carefully sifting through the known facts and weighing them up before reaching more rational evidence-based conclusions. Unlike system 1, which is operative most of the time as your mind cruises along on “automatic pilot”, system 2 requires you to consciously focus your attention on the matter at hand. It is much more demanding, effortful and tiring and, as our minds tend to be lazy, there is a natural tendency to avoid rational thought in favour of intuition. Nowhere is this more evident than in the matter of assigning cause and effect to associations.

A few months ago The British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) published the results of a study that had used eight different British population-based follow-up surveys of people over the age of 40 and looked at their causes of death in relation to their drinking and exercise habits. They found that there was a direct association between the amount of alcohol consumed and A) the risk of death from cancer and B) the risk of death from all causes. In other words, the more alcohol you consumed the more likely you were to die within a particular period. However, the authors also reported that regular physical activity, even as little as 20 minutes a day in some cases, weakened the association between alcohol intake and risk of death from all causes and effectively eliminated its association with cancer deaths.

Unless you live in a cave and only take notice of what is written on tablets of stone that fall from the sky, then I’m sure news of this will have reached you because over the following days and weeks there was a worldwide media frenzy that interpreted the scientifically based data in a so-called consumer friendly way. If you are like me then maybe your system 1 interpreted this study as showing that drinking alcoholic beverages increases your risk of dying, especially from cancer, and the more you drink the greater the risk. Then, system 1 will have told you that if you do a bit of exercise then this increased risk goes away. Great news; you can drink as much as you like without risk to your longevity if you get on your bike, go for a jog or even stroll around the block with the family mutt after work. System 1 has accepted that alcohol has caused the increased risk and that exercise has reduced or eliminated this hazard. This study has shown two causes and effects that work in opposite directions. It seems consistent with the general health messages that are spread about these days so it makes you and your system 1 feel comfortable; end of story... or is it?

If you know anything about the literature concerning health and mild to moderate drinking you may not feel so comfortable and might engage system 2 to help you nut out the problem a bit further. This study, like so many others that are published in the medical literature these days, takes no account of the type of alcoholic beverage consumed. To the medical scientists all alcoholic drinks are created equal; equally evil, that is. There are, however, a number of highly reputable epidemiological studies from Europe and North America that show that all drinkers are not created equal. In particular, wine drinkers have consistently been shown to do more physical activity than beer and spirit drinkers so that it seems very likely that the former would be overrepresented in the BJSM exercise group with the better outcome and conversely would be underrepresented in the physically inactive group. So, maybe all that is being shown is the result of beverage preference.

Then, if you prod your system 2 into search mode, it may come across the “French Shopping Trolley Study”, which extensively investigated checkout receipts from supermarkets. It showed that people who bought wine also purchased a much “healthier” range of foods than those who carried away beer or spirits. This fits with much other published data that shows wine drinkers are in many ways a different subset of the population to beer and spirit drinkers and generally lead “healthier” lifestyles. And that is the conundrum we are faced with when we try to unravel cause and effect. We can note the associations but it doesn’t necessarily mean that one such association causes a particular effect. There have been many studies looking at the rates of different cancers in different classes of drinkers, compared with non-drinkers and most have shown lower frequency in wine drinkers compared with those whose regular tipple is something else.

In fact, an article published in 2014 in the medical journal, Cancer Cell International, showed that wine, even in low concentrations, inhibited the growth of lung cancer cells in the laboratory. This prompted authors to suggest that wine may be worthy of a trial as a chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agent.

All of which leads me to echo the words of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, who said, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”. It is clear to me that the last word on wine and health is yet a long way from being written.


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.

Complimentary Mail Order Tasting

Monday 28 November
5pm - 7pm
Hilton Hotel
Aquamarine Room 3
147 Quay Street
ph (09) 978 2036

Thursday 1st December
5pm - 7pm
Museum Hotel
Tamburini Room
90 Cable Street
ph (04) 802 8900

Thursday 8th December
5pm - 7pm
The George Hotel
Parkview Room
50 Park Terrace
ph (03) 379 4560


All orders placed on the night will go into 2 draws for a chance to WIN!
1st draw - Magnum of Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir
2nd draw - Magnum of Pegasus Bay Aria


Please bring any interested friends

Current Vintages / Releases

All bottles 750ml unless otherwise stated


750 ml and Magnum 1.5 lt
Can you grow riesling almost anywhere? The answer is yes, almost anywhere that grapevines can be cultivated, but like pinot noir, riesling sulks in all but special sites, giving wine of indifferent quality. The terroir in which it excels has freely draining, stony, mineral rich soil with warm summer and autumn days but cold nights. The daytime temperatures encourage full physiological ripening while the nights draw out this process and help retain good natural acidity. The dry soil produces small berries that concentrate the flavours while the stones give the wine a tangy minerality. Such wine can be enjoyed in the flush youth when it is full of exuberant citrus and pip fruit flavours but it cellars well and after several years develops overlays of stone fruits and honey suckle. We are fortunate in having such terroir in Waipara.

Due to the special vintage conditions 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 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


As mentioned in “Recent Seasons” above this was an exceptional vintage. This wine is unashamedly made in the big boned Alsatian style. You, our mail order customers, are the first to have an opportunity to taste this wine so we have no reviews but this is an extract of our cellar notes:

“Turkish delight, musk, rose petals, and quince. Concentrated, unctuous and powerful with a tangy off dry finish of crushed ginger.”


The normal practice in Bordeaux is to blend sauvignon blanc with semillon to give more complexity, tone down the dominating herbaceous characters, add richness and enable it to age. This makes it a true table wine that can be enjoyed with food rather than the highly perfumed traditional kiwi sauvignon, which is ideal as a beverage to be sipped at a party.

Pegasus Bay is one of a handful of New Zealand wineries to follow the Bordelaise in this tradition, including wild fermentation by the grapes’ indigenous yeasts, 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. Accordingly, we hold this wine back and regularly release it when much sauvignon blanc of the same vintage is going over the hill. As this wine has just been released we have only a few reviews.

4.5 stars  95/100 ...Concentrated, ripe peach and passionfruit... Excellent complexity... Rich, dry finish... Very distinctive.
Michael Cooper, NZ

91/100  Intoxicating bouquet... Firm, dry, packed with flavour; long finish... Delicious.
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, NZ

18+/20  Flavours build in depth and intensity... Nectarines, greengages... Softly interwoven nutty lees... Subtle complexities and a soft dry finish.
Raymond Chan, NZ



Magnum 1.5 lt

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 microorganisms 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.

The 750 ml bottles of this wine sold through very quickly. Fortunately, we held back some of these larger bottles, which have now matured beautifully.

5 stars 19/20  Medium-full bodied, concentrated… Deep flavours of white and yellow stone fruits interwoven with savoury and nutty notes… Complex…
Raymond Chan, NZ


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 this 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 page 6 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


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. This wine 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”.

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

91/100  Perfumed… Raspberry, gingerbread and mocha… Juicy and savoury... Musky red berry and spice... Excellent intensity.
Stephen Tanzer, USA

4.5 stars  Mouth filling… Concentrated, savoury and complex.
Winestate Magazine. AUS


Magnum 1.5 lt
This pinot and the 2010 mentioned below were made in exactly 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 etherealSilky 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 offered below.

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

5 stars  AuthoritativePowerful 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 


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 and we have received only one review.

17.5+/20  Flavours are harmoniously melded and unfold in waves… Fine-grained tannins structure… Soft, stylish, lingering finish.
Raymond Chan, NZ


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’ page 6) 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 recently been released 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


750 ml and Magnum 1.5 lt
Over the years this late harvest riesling has been one of our most popular wines but is made only in special vintages. 2014 was definitely one such (see ‘Recent Seasons’ page 6). 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.

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

Excellent to Outstanding. Crystallised lemon/fruits… Layers of flavour: textural and richly creamy.
Mark Henderson, Otago Daily Times. NZ

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


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’ page 6) is the only one 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 was only recently released, reviews are just starting to appear.

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

5 stars 97/100  Bush honey… Toast… Apricot and peach... Really delicious.
Bob Campbell MW, NZ

18.5+/20  Rich and luscious… Layers of exotic fruits, marmalade, lifted florals… Near unctuous mouthfeel.
Raymond Chan, NZ


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 

PEGASUS BAY PRIMA DONNA 2012 750 ml Sold Out


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

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 is the wine that scored top out of a tasting of hundreds of NZ wines in New York. It has developed superbly and is just the thing that very special celebration. Why not treat yourself?

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

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

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

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

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

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



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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