Bare Pinot Noir canes at Pegasus Bay Vineyard during winter

The Reward of Sward

Close your eyes and imagine a vineyard. What do you see? Most likely, you envision neat rows of leafy vines, perhaps converging as they stretch into the distance. The leaves are probably green but, if it’s autumn, they may be golden. Perhaps you see bunches of ripe grapes and even pickers happily harvesting the fruit. If that’s your picture, there is an important part of the vineyard you have missed out. It’s the ground between the vines, the vital stuff they grow in, the dirt that supplies their water, nutrients, minerals and the like. Now, envisage that. What is your picture? Do you see bare earth, stones or something else? If it’s a European vineyard, the soil may well have been tilled so hardly a weed remains. Weeds suck up the scarce supply of water during summer and watering is banned because is not ‘traditional’. In the New World, it’s common to have a ‘sward’ between the vines. Technically, sward refers to the top layer of soil and the grass that covers it, but in a vineyard it refers to any plants grown as groundcover between the vines.

“What does it matter?” you might well ask. “Is one way better than the other?”

Having bare earth, especially if it is stony, allows more heat retention and aids ripening. Tilling lessens compaction and aerates the topsoil, in addition to removing the weeds, but particulate matter may blow away, lessening the fertility of the earth. Having a sward increases the organic matter of the ground, which is not only directly beneficial to the vines but allows a microcosm of organisms to live amongst them. You can see and hear this as insects busily buzz, flutter and creep about their business, but what goes unobserved is even more important. Yes, below the surface of the sward is where the wild things live and where the real action takes place. Worms and beetles are the biggest and best-known of these creatures, but a healthy soil contains bugs of all shapes and sizes, along with fungi and single celled organisms galore. Mycorrhizal fungi are attached to plant rootlets and help them take up minerals and nutrients. In the process, these fungi derive some energy from the vine. It’s a win-win situation, an example of the vital symbiotic relationships that underpin the best natural ecosystems.

Getting down-to-earth – wildflowers in the sward at Pegasus Bay Vineyard.

I wouldn’t like to imply that European vignerons do not care about their soil, because they do, and some grow cover crops in the spring and early summer, which they then turn into the ground, but sward is more common in New World vineyards.

It is possible to develop your sward to suit your vineyard’s own requirements: soil type and composition, rainfall, climate etc. At Pegasus Bay we have a variety of sward plants: grasses, clovers, broadleaves, flowers and even weeds! Yes, weeds are only plants that someone doesn’t like, and they could be very good in someone else’s sward. And we encourage our sward and vines alike with good old natural compost. We know that if we look after our sward, it will reward us.

Run Through the Vines for Your Brain Health

Preparations are now underway for our third Vine Run which is due to take place on Sunday 26 January. Our last event raised a whopping $26,000 for the NZ Brain Research Institute (NZBRI) and we’re aiming to do even better this time. To help with this, we’ve added a new 18km trail challenge with stunning views over the Waipara Valley and out to sea. Together with our 6km and 10km walk/run options, there really is something for all levels of fitness! We welcome individual,
team and corporate entries.

For the first time, we’re also giving participants the option to become sponsored Brainy Runners by raising further funds for the NZBRI. The details are on the website. The Vine Run team are working hard to make 2020 our best Vine Run yet so, if you’re looking for a fun day out in a beautiful location where you can reward yourself at the finish line with something chilled and refreshing, then look no further! There will be food trucks there, but you’re welcome to bring a picnic, and rest up while you enjoy the post-run live entertainment. There is also increasing evidence that exercise may be good for your brain health, so it’s a win-win situation and you’ve got to be in to win! Entries are strictly limited

Some of the happy runners in the last Vine Run.

Smell the Wine and Not the Roses?

Much has been published on wine drinking and health but a new study from the USA, in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, raises the intriguing question of whether smelling wine might be beneficial to brain health. The researchers showed, on MRI scan, parts of the brain of Master Sommeliers (a US qualification somewhat like the British Master of Wine) were thicker in areas that deal with smell and memory than in control subjects. The authors went on to say, “These differences suggest that specialised expertise and training may result in enhancement in the brains well into adulthood. This is particularly important given the regions that are involved are the first to be impacted by many neurodegenerative diseases.”  This ties in with other scientific publications that have suggested dementia may be less in mild to moderate drinkers than in abstainers. But the sommeliers, who make up restaurant wine lists and recommend what you should drink, do just that themselves; they actually swallow the stuff after they have sniffed it. So maybe it’s the imbibing that is beneficial, something that is not so easy to do with roses!

Of Sculpture and Gardens

The Goddess Zephrine, sculpted from Taranaki andesite by Oriah Rapley.

There are those that think gardening is an art form and we are counted amongst them. Mrs Pegasus, Chris Donaldson, along with horticulturist Paula Kelly, has worked hard over many years to give the flying horse a beautiful paddock in which he can kick up his heels. So, what better place to set a sculpture exhibition than in the Pegasus Bay’s park-like gardens. Through spring and early summer Pegasus Bay will host an exciting collection of sculpture, orchestrated by Laura Forbes of Sculpture North Canterbury, from 12 Kiwi artists. This follows on from last year’s successful display of the works of 6 sculptors. Make sure you see this year’s exhibition, which promises to be very exciting.

And while you’re here, pick up a map of the gardens at the restaurant and treat yourself to a leisurely ‘sip and show’ stroll of art works set in a background of living art. We would count it a privilege to welcome you.

The People Pick Pegasus

Last newsletter we mentioned how the experts, wine writers Matthew Jukes (UK) and Tyson Stelzer (Australia), ranked Pegasus Bay, along with another 6 other wineries, as the only 5-star Pinot Noir producers in their Eighth Great New Zealand Pinot Noir Classification. Now, we are pleased to tell you that the non-experts back their decision. Special annual tastings of pinot noir are held for pinot lovers in key cities throughout Asia and Australasia under the name of Pinot Palooza. These are open to the general public and an extensive range of pinots are available for evaluation. There is a vote for the best wine, and this year, Pegasus Bay has been ‘The People’s Choice’ at Pinot Palooza in both Auckland and Christchurch.

2019 Vintage Roundup

One of the fascinating things about wine is that each vintage is different. Unlike most other alcoholic beverages, you can never make the same wine twice. Why? It’s because weather has a greater impact on grapes than most fruits and indelibly stamps its character on the enticing liquid in your glass. Even the winemaker can’t be certain of the quality of a vintage until the wines have had a chance to settle down in the months following harvest and fermentation. So, what can we say about the vintage of 2019?

The spring was kind, but not to a fault. We had a good mix of warm and cool days over flowering to ensure a good but not a bumper crop. Too much fruit on the vines leads to wishy-washy wines. Summer was warm to hot but there was enough rain to keep the plants healthy without swelling the berries excessively and diluting their contents. The autumn started dry, enabling us to harvest pinot and chardonnay in splendid condition. There followed a period of rain, forcing some vineyards to pick other varieties early. We held on and were rewarded by an Indian summer, resulting in near perfect maturity in all our crop. And the wines? You will be the eventual judge but right across the board they are looking very special and the winemaker is smiling.

Pegasus Bay Restaurant Flying High

Pegasus Bay Restaurant crew at Christchurch Hospitality Awards.

As if being category winner 8 times annually by Cuisine Magazine was not enough, at the 2018 Christchurch Hospitality Awards our restaurant was named as the Best Regional Establishment. Imagine our surprise when it won the same award in 2019. We regard this as really special, given the large number of new restaurants that have opened in Christchurch and Canterbury since our earthquakes. Yes, while there were very many restaurants destroyed in our shakes, there is now a vibrant hospitality scene with more restaurants than there ever were.

What’s the secret of our success? It’s all about teamwork, from restaurant manager and kitchen through to the front of house. Our sole purpose in life is to give you the best experience that we can with what we have available. Our staff are our most important resource, followed by the wonderful fresh North Canterbury food to which we have access. We aim to match these for you with the best wines we can produce. We don’t claim to be perfect, but we will do our best to make your visit a memorable experience. Our head chef, Jackson Smith, has wonderful imagination and flair. Come and try for yourself. And while you’re here, take a look around our potager, it is full of tasty vegetables, herbs, and fruits, some of which are quite exotic.

But our hard-working staff need a break. The restaurant will be closed from 24 December to 3 January inclusive. If you are dining, it is best to reserve online at or by ringing 03 314 6869 ext 1 to avoid disappointment. Over this period our tasting room will be open from 10am to 5pm, 7 days a week, except the statutory holidays.

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:


Tuesday 10 December
5pm - 7pm
Sofitel Auckland
21 Viaduct Harbour Avenue
ph (09) 909 9000

Wednesday 11 December
5pm - 7pm
QT Wellington
Tamburini Room
90 Cable Street
ph (04) 802 8900

Friday 13 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 Bel Canto Dry Riesling
 Please bring any interested friends

From the Prescription Pad

Grapevines are not native to New Zealand but such is their importance they were introduced here prior to the Treaty of Waitangi. In fact, this year is the 200th anniversary of their first planting, which was by the Anglican missionary, Samuel Marsden at Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands. Doubtless, the good priest intended the produce to be used strictly for communion or medicinal purposes; he didn’t say. The vines grew well, however, causing him to enthuse in his diary that “New Zealand promises to be very favourable to the vine, as far as I can judge ... Should the vine succeed, it will prove of vast importance in this part of the globe.” If Sam was still around today, I’m sure he would be mightily impressed as the current situation likely exceeds his wildest expectations. Viticulture and winemaking are thriving and make a significant contribution to this country’s economy. They are our fifth largest export by value at NZ$1.83 billion. This makes us the seventh-largest wine exporter in the world, again by value, not volume. We are small players on a global volume scale, producing only 1 or 2% of the world’s wine and our biggest impact is close to home. Approximately 60% of imported wine in Australia is Kiwi, mainly white. This is balanced by Australian wine, making up 75% of wine imported into New Zealand, and it’s mainly red. As the Australian market is much bigger than NZ’s, it still leaves us well ahead. How did all this come about?

Some quite substantial vineyard holdings had been developed by the late 1800s, but these were wiped out by the arrival of the microscopic, sap sucking insect, phylloxera. Biosecurity was a problem even back then, although few recognised it. Eventually the European winemaking grapevines (vitus vinifera) were replaced by native American ones, which are not only resistant to phylloxera but largely free of fungal leaf diseases that plague the former. This would have been a good solution to the problem except that American vines generally produce rubbish wine. Nonetheless, these reigned in the NZ wine industry during the first half of the 20th century, which was based around Auckland and specialised in sweet fortified wines.

When I first became interested in viticulture and winemaking in the mid-1960s, vitus vinifera was starting to make a comeback and cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay from Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne were opening eyes to the potential of producing really fine wines in NZ. At that stage, all commercial vineyards were situated from Hawke’s Bay northwards. Why? Because it was thought too cold south of that. It was in the early 1970s that vines drifted further south. Fast forward to today, when 85% of all Kiwi wines come from the South Island. Why? Because it is now appreciated that the south is ideal for the cool climate style of wines in which NZ excels. The wider world also appreciates these wines, which is why we can punch above our weight in the vinous statistics. Reputation is all important in the global wine market and determines the price, but reputation must be based on delivering top quality.

There are always people out there who are happy to degrade or steal your reputation to their own advantage and there are no people more protective of their reputation than the French. Champagne is good example of this. Years ago, “Champagne” was used as a generic name for any sparkling wine but the people from the Champagne region of France objected. The name was theirs and must not be used by others. They took legal action to ensure that this was the case. More than a few NZ makers of sparkling wine received feisty legal letters and were eventually forced to abandon the name. Australian law said any bottle fermented wine could be called “champagne” so winemakers across the ditch were initially exempt. Eventually even the feisty Aussies were forced to retreat and repeal the offending legislation.

I was recently in a French supermarket and my eye happened to alight on a bottle of wine called ‘Kiwi Cuvée’. It was a malbec and, as there are only a few NZ producers, of which Pegasus Bay is one, I decided to try it. It seemed to be amazingly cheap, being only a few euros, so I didn’t have a high expectation. As it turned out, I was right. It was a soulless soft red that didn’t distinguish itself in any way; drinkable plonk but nothing more. I guess you get what you pay for. Why would anybody bother exporting it to France, or rather, why would any French company import it? The back label told me all. It was a “Vin de France”. Yes, it was a local wine that had been packaged to look like a New Zealand one, even down to the screw cap, which is a decidedly unusual closure for a French drop. French winemakers prefer to use cheap plastic corks, because they think is a better image, rather than screw cap, which has been scientifically shown to be the best type of closure for maturing wine. The Kiwi Cuvée was not so much about forgery as identity theft. It was bottled by a company called Lacheteau, from the little village of Mouzillon, not far from the Loire River, a region celebrated for sauvignon blanc. Lacheteau didn’t even claim to make the wine so it could have come from anywhere in France. Doctor Google was able to enlighten me further. The offender also markets a raft of other wine varieties under the Kiwi Cuvée brand, including, of course, NZ’s icon, sauvignon blanc. Lacheteau registered the name ‘Kiwi’ in the EU and tried to export to Australia. They were blocked, thanks to the timely action of WinegrowersNZ, but they still pass their product off under this brand in Europe and Britain, much to the confusion of consumers. It’s ironic the Maori name for France is “Wiwi”, because this type of “legal” misrepresentation is enough to Wiwi-off Kiwi’s.

The identity thief.

But a recent trip to Scandinavia showed me that wine enthusiasts are fairly well off in New Zealand. In Nordic countries, except for Denmark, the sale of alcoholic beverages is controlled by government monopolies, of which Sweden is a good example. The state controls all retail sales, including what types and brands of wine are available. All items must be sold individually, they are not allowed to be offered for sale chilled and no discounts are allowed. Generally, the quality is low and the price high. In addition, GST is 25% compared with 12% for other food items, which is on top of NZ $2.66 excise per bottle. The hours of trading are severely limited. Not surprisingly, many Swedes go to Germany or Estonia to buy their wine as they can bring it back duty-free from these EU countries. Despite this near-Communist state control, a stroll around any major Scandinavian city on a Saturday night doesn’t show any shortage of people in need of support. I guess the lamppost huggers are empowered by the traditional Nordic tipple, vodka or the like, because it certainly can’t be due to fine wine!

Well, it’s great to visit the big wide world but good to be home to enjoy a glass of fine local wine… in moderation.

The Seasons 

Growing conditions for the 2009 vintage were amongst our best and we have been delighted with the way our riesling has matured. A mild spring, a warm summer and a long lingering autumn created a perfect prelude to the 2013 vintage, which went off without a hitch. Autumn rain in 2014 resulted in some noble botrytis, benefiting rieslings, including Bel Canto. A perfect summer and a warm dry autumn in 2016 enabled us to pick each variety at the optimum time and it has been an exceptional vintage for both reds and whites. Autumn rain in 2017 caused us to pick a little earlier than usual but the naturally small berries and good physiological ripeness has given the wines extra concentration, vibrancy and poise.

Current Vintages / Releases

All bottles 750ml unless otherwise stated


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

96/100  Distinctive ... Fantastic flavour and impact ... Mineral core and pure expression.
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, NZ

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

5 stars 95/100  Irresistibly delicious ... sumptuous palate ... Mouth filling and lavish ... balanced and harmonious ... Terrific depth.
Sam Kim, NZ

PEGASUS BAY RIESLING 2009 - Special Aged Release

We specially put this wine away to show you how carefully aged riesling can develop.  We think it has matured perfectly and this is what the experts say:

5 stars 97/100 Totally seductive ... Outstanding depth and richness with an extremely long gracious finish.
Sam Kim, NZ

5 stars  Concentrated grapefruit and peach ... Spicy, honeyed, crisp acidity and musky perfume.
Michael Cooper, Winestate Magazine AUS

95/100  Best import.  A very exotic style.
Huon Hooke, Sydney Morning Herald AUS

95/100  Gorgeous complexity ... Exotic spice over crunchy backbone of lime and lemon
Tyson Stelzer. Wine Taste Weekly AUS


As mentioned under ‘The Seasons’, 2017 was a "small berry" year which is given this wine extra concentration and poise.  It was left on the vine until later in the season so it would develop some noble botrytis.  As it is being released for the first time in this newsletter we do not have any reviews but here are some of our cellar tasting notes

"Redolent with peach, luchee, honeysuckle, dried fig and exotic spice ... Rich and unctous with alingering aftertaste of fresh ginger complementing it's off dry finish"


We have never released a straight sauvignon blanc wine - why?  Because we prefer one that has more texture, mouth feel and complexity than sauvignon blanc can produce by itself. By blending in semillon that was fermented in seasoned barriques we follow the old Bordeaux tradition, aiming to soften the sauvignon's pungency that can sometimes be over-the-top.  It takes longer to integrate and express itself than sinmple sauvignon blanc so we purposely delay its release.  We are particularly pleased with this wine as we feel we have achieved that balance while still clearly retaining the sauvignon varietal character.  As it is just being repleased recently we do not have any reviews but here are some cellar notes.

"Citrus blossum, lemon, gooseberry and passionfruit ... Hint of strcuk match complexity ... Good terxture and body with a crispness that emphasises the wine's mineral notes"


Pegasus Bay Chardonnays come from old low yielding vines that tend to produce a very concentrated wine. In the tradition of great white Burgundy, the juice is fermented in French puncheons by the grapes’ natural micro-organisms and aged on lees for 18 months. This had produced a flinty, gun-smoke complexity which adds a savoury element. We have used only a minority of new barrels to minimize any oak character and emphasize the power of the fruit. 

This wine has been rated 95/100 or greater or 5 stars by at least 8 wine writers or publications, including Wine State Magazine (AU), Gourmet Traveller Magazine (AU), New Zealand Listener Magazine (NZ), (USA), (NZ), (NZ), (NZ), (NZ). 


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

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

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

94/100  Struck match with intensity of fruit to cover.  Excellent but you have to enjoy a walk on the wild side.
Gary Walsh, AUS


We have a tiny plot of muscat à petits grains, a variety that is used in Alsace and the Rhône Valley.  It is used to make Muscat Beaumes de Venise wine in the latter region.  This 2016 muscat has the intensity of Muscat Beaumes de Venise but is made in a drier style.  As it is restricted to cellar door and mail order we usually don't many reviews but here are a couple.

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

92/100  The ultimate aromatic grape variety with pure floral flavours... Impressive.
Bob Campbell MW, NZ

PEGASUS BAY PINOT NOIR 2016 - New Release Magnum

750 ml and Magnum 1.5 lt
We use traditional Burgundian techniques to make our pinot noirs, including natural primary and secondary fermentations by indigenous micro-organisms. Primary fermentation is carried out in small vats that are gently plunged to avoid excessive extraction. This wine was then matured for 18 months in oak barriques from artisan Burgundian coopers. It is a big baby and will be a keeper.

19/20  Intensely flavoursome ... spicy ... Well-balanced, silky smooth pinot.
Joelle Thomson, Drinksbiz Magazine, NZ

5 stars  Outstanding ... Headscratchingly delicious in every single way.
Yvonne Lorkin,, NZ.

5 stars 95/100  Dark fruit richness ... savoury undertones ... awesome power and concentration ... finishing persistent and engaging
Sam Kim, NZ


Jeroboam 3 lt
At a large tasting of New Zealand pinot noirs held by Decanter Magazine in London, it was one of only a handful that was rated as "outstanding".  It has also been rated as the best New Zealand and Australian wine under $A80 (750ml) tasted during 2017 by Tyson Stelzer.

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

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

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


750ml and Magnum 1.5 lt
We make this blend of traditional Bordeaux claret grapes in the Bordelaise manner with pump-over and aeration of juice during fermentation, followed by maturation in French oak barriques for 24 months. It was clarified by racking it off its natural yeast deposit on several occasions prior to bottling.  

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

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

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


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

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


At Pegasus Bay, we are always exploring new wine styles and our "Vergence" series gives you the opportunity to see what we are up to behind-the-scenes.  They show the potential of variety and winemaking techniques when you think outside the square.

This Vergence white is a blended wine bases on semillon that has been fermented and aged for two years in previously seasoned barrels.  Don't think Australian semillon here, this wine is its own beast.

Very good - excellent  Bold with intense grapefruit, oranges, mandarin dried herbs and nuts ... Complexity, finely balanced silky palate.
Mark Henderson, Otago Daily Times, NZ

5 stars 94/100  Impressively complex and fragrant ... Grapefruit, baked apple, golden peach and toasted nut characters with a hint of gun smoke ... Wonderfully weighted delivering rich texture ... Finishing long and attractively savoury.
Sam Kim, NZ

4 stars 91/100  Flavoursome richly textured and quite complex.  More savoury than fruity.  I like it.
Bob Campbell MW,  NZ

Reserve Wines

All bottles 750ml unless otherwise stated


Seven Masters of Wine and a Master Sommelier have named Bel Canto as one of five rieslings that are New Zealand's finest. Bel Canto is possible to make only in certain years. The grapes have almost the same ripeness as those used for Aria, but their juice is fermented to dryness. Because of the low crop and some noble botrytis, this has extra concentration. It is drinking beautifully now but will cellar well. 

5 stars 95/100  Gorgeous ... Richly fruited and fragrant, concentrated and generously flavoured ... Opulent and delectable.
Sam Kim, NZ

95/100  Lemon curd, white peach, apple, white rose and honeysuckle ... Core of minerality ... Complexity ... Delicious!
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, NZ

5 stars  Powerful, weighty ... Concentrated peachy with hints of oranges and honey ...Lasting finish.  Should be long-lived.
Winestate Magazine, AU


Magnum 1.5 lt
Because of the vintage conditions this wine had more noble botrytis than the 2017 mentioned above.

5 stars 95/100 Complex with apricots, honey, spice, clove floral and citrus characters… Gives a nod in the direction of Alsace.
Bob Campbell MW, NZ

19/20 Harmoniously intertwined flavours of ripe citrus fruits, marmalade, honey, musk and minerality. Smooth texture with considerable power and drive. 
Raymond Chan, NZ

5 stars Outstanding… Full-bodied white with all the richness and complexity of the great chardonnays Deliciously long finish. 
Joelle Thomson, Drinksbiz Magazine NZ

Excellent.  Distinctively different ... fasinatingly complex.
Mark Henderson, Otago Daily Times NZ


750 ml and Magnum 1.5 lt
Over the years, this late harvest riesling has been one of our most popular wines but is made only in special vintages and 2016 was definitely one of such (see under 'The Seasons'), in making this wine we hand-selected only bunches that had 30% or more of noble botrytis.

19/20  Seductlively succulent ... RFipe peach, mandarin and lemon ...  Full-bodied with powerful lingering finish.
Joelle Thomson, Drinksbiz Magazine NZ

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

Excellent/Outstanding  Sumptuous, delightful complexity ... Bittersweet element and hints of almond provide lovely counterpoint ... Savoury elements create a lovely balance ... to ponder over.
Mark Henderson, Otago Daily Times NZ


375 ml
The seven MW's and one MS, mentioned above under Bel Canto 2017, include Encore as one of the five best NZ sweet wines.   This riesling is in the style of an Alsatian Selection des Grains Nobles or German Trockenbeerenauslese.  We can make it only in very special years and this is only the second vintage that we have produced since 2011. Late in the season we carefully hand selected only the most perfectly shrivelled botrytic fruit and the small amount of juice that we obtained was left to slowly ferment at a low temperature over the winter and spring. 

5 stars 19+/20  Concentrated core of ripe exotic tropical fruits... deliciously rich, nearly unctuous... lingering finish.
Raymond Chan, NZ

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

96/100  Rich with pristine apricots and marmalade note balanced by bright acid ... Balance is superb and the finish lasts into next week.  Wow!
Joe Czerwinski, USA


375 ml
Finale is a barrel fermented wine in the style of Sauternes and is only made in special years and this is the first we have produced since 2014.  We selected only the most beautifully noble botrytic sauvignon blanc and semillon berries to make this wine.  The small amount of juice obtained was fermented by the grapes' natural yeasts in artisan French oak barriques and matured in these. As it has only recently been released we do not have any reviews but here are some of our cellar tasting notes.

"Stone fruit, beeswax, pineapple and paasionfruit ... Hints of brioche, hazelnut marmalade and butterscotch ... Rich and unctuous but plenty of acid to ensure perfect balance."


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

18.5/20  Toasty, dry, full-bodied ... Loads of weight and a lindering finish.  What more could you ask for in a top-notch Chardonnay?
Joelle Thomson, Drinksbiz Magazine NZ

5 stars 95/100  Intense, rich, weighty, with peach, biscuit, hazelnut, struck flint.  Deliciously drinkable now but should develop well.
Bob Campbell MW, NZ

Outstanding  White peach, citrus, struck match and smoke ... Powerful, wonderful drive and energy.  Density but impressive freshness and vibrancy.
Mark Henderson, Otago Daily Times NZ

5 stars  Gorgeous ... Frisky minerality ... Beautifully balanced acidity adds focus, brightness and purity to the long rich finish.  Chardonnay lovers need this.
Yvonne Lorkin,, NZ.


Magnum 1.5 lt
We only produce Prima Donna Pinot Noir in exceptional years.  It was made in the same way as Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2016 mentioned above and Prima Donna 2013 below.  Prima Donna is a blend of the barrels that we feel best reflect the vintage and our unique terroir.  It mainly comes from our oldest, lowest cropping vines that are non-grafted. 

97/100  Stunningly beautiful ... Complex with dark plum, vanilla, hazelnut and smoked game characters, sumptuous, rich texture and awesome power as well as elegance.
Sam Kim, NZ

96/100  Rich, concentrated, quite savoury ... Plum, dark berry, violets and spice ... Very complex ... Worth cellaring.
Bob Campbell MW, NZ

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

19/20  Super concentrated flavours ... Delicious intensity and power.  Great Pinot Noir.
Joelle Thomson, Drinksbiz Magazine NZ


Jeroboam 3 lt
Just the thing for a special occasion.  This wine has matured beautifully and this is what leading UK wine writer Matthew Jukes has to say about it.

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

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

5 stars 96/100  Deeply scented, intense, plum, dark cherry, berry, licorice, mixed spice.
Bob Campbell MW, NZ

5 stars Savoury, ripe, rich, velvety tannins ... Complexity and harmony.
Michael Cooper, The Listener Magazine NZ

5 stars  Exotic opulence ... So much power and flavour ... Immensely appealing luxurious style.
Winestate Magazine AUS


As with Prima Donna, Maestro is prodced only in special years and this is the first we have produced since 2009.  As usual, this one is a blend of the barrels of merlot, cabernet and malbec that we feel best reflect the vintage and our terrior.  

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

18.5/20  Stunning wine now andfor the long haul.
Joelle Thomson, Drinksbiz Magazine NZ

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

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

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Pegasus Bay

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