Like Wine – Like Vine

As you are reading this, the chances are that you like wine. You may not be an expert but you probably know what type you prefer, even if it’s only “red” or “white”. Wine buffs often pride themselves on being able to identify a range of wines served blind. Some are pretty accurate and can differentiate grape type, region of production, age and even producer. But seldom are they actually doing it blind, that is to say without vision. It’s surprising, but when blindfolded, it can be extremely difficult to distinguish some whites from reds. Knowing the colour puts you into a particular mindset and leads you onto the right track. If shown a vine, however, no matter how good your wine buff is, he or she is unlikely to know whether it produces red or white wine, without glimpsing the colour of its ripe fruit.

The identification of different grape vine varieties, or ampelography (see ‘From the Prescription Pad’), is a very complex matter and has traditionally been done by studying leaves and fruit. Vine leaves differ slightly in shape, shade of green and texture but it is a brave or foolish expert who would make categorical decisions based on these alone. All is made easy these days by analysis of DNA.

The colour in red wine is due to chemical substances called anthocyanins that are closely related to tannins. These build up in the berry’s skin as it ripens and are extracted into the wine by the formation of alcohol during fermentation. Although they are concentrated on the surface to attract birds and animals to eat the fruit and spread the seeds, small amounts of anthocyanins can be found elsewhere in the vine. In the leaves, their presence is submerged by the dominance of chlorophyll, natures magic green chemical that converts sunlight’s energy into the food on which all plants and animals depend. But as the leaves die they lose their chlorophyll, letting their other colours appear. This produces a glorious vineyard display as red varieties blaze into life and whites splash about rich golds. Autumn is that wonderful time of the year when even a strolling novice can become a viticultural expert!

The Pegasus Bay Vineyard River Block in late autumn; the coloured stripes clearly showing the difference between red and white grape vines.

Vine Run 2019

The inaugural Pegasus Bay Vine Run was held this year and by popular demand it will be held again on Sunday 27 January 2019. There will be more about it in the next newsletter but make sure you keep this date free and go to for further information and early-bird registration. Places will be strictly limited but we would love to see you, our special customers, there. Start training now!

Running through the vines, Vine Run January 2018.

Special Aged Release Wines

But if you don’t have the place, purse or patience for maturing your top drops, don’t despair. Some time back, we began to put away age worthy wines with the view of releasing them in the spring after a decade of careful cellaring. Two such 2008 wines are now available, see ‘Recent Releases’.

They have just been evaluated by noted wine writer, Nick Stock who says:

Pegasus Bay Riesling 2008

94/100 Aged superbly… Lime marmalade, lemon curd, peach pastry and fresh citrus fruits. A great mature wine.

Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2008

94/100 Dense and gently chewy… Earthy, mushroomy, truffly goodness, long and plush textual ride… Very fresh and “sweet” finish.

Restaurant Reopens

The Pegasus Bay Restaurant has been closed to give the staff a well earned break but reopens for the new season on 9 August. Expect an exciting lineup of new dishes but the friendly service will be the same. It will be our pleasure to serve you. Remember, it is best to reserve by telephoning 03 3146869 ext 1 but feel free to pop in to the tasting room at any time. Would love to see you.

Now or Later?

It is said that 98% of all wine is drunk within 48 hours of purchase. For most, it’s not a tragedy because they are made for early consumption and don’t really have much potential to improve with age. But what about the other 2%, whose buyers have resisted the temptation of instant gratification? Did they miss their invitation to the party, do they have faulty memories, or did they intend putting their wine away for a while? Perhaps they want to cellar it and, if so, to what purpose?

According to CNBC (Consumer News and Business Channel), fine wines are one of the best performing luxury assets with values increasing by up to 25% last year, topping art, jewellery, coins and the like. While it seems sacrilege to real wine lovers, some people buy wine simply as an investment. They never intend to let a drop of it pass their miserable lips and generally don’t even bring the wine home. They put it in air-conditioned storage and, as it ages and increases in value, they pull out odd bottles and put them into wine auctions. They reinvest some of the profit by replenishing their cellars with current and hence cheaper bottles of fine wine that will likewise gain value with age.

The older the wine and the fancier the pedigree, the higher the price they can expect and there is no doubt that red Bordeaux wine, or claret, generally calls in the biggest bucks. A couple of the most expensive bottles ever sold were Château Margaux 1787, US$225,000, and Château Lafite of the same vintage, US$156,450. It’s true that Château Mouton Rothschild 1945 was knocked down at US$310,700 but, as that was a Jeroboam, it hardly counts. As you would expect, New World wines play second fiddle in fine wine auctions and Inglenook Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1941 only managed US$24,675. Closer to home, Australia’s Penfolds Grange Hermitage 1951 was sold away for AU$38,420. Whites never do as well and the highest price is said to have been for a Krug Champagne 1928 at a measly $21,200.

The above-mentioned wines were the top prices at commercial sales and not charity auctions, where things tend to go a bit wild. The most expensive price paid for a charity bottle of wine was US$350,000 for a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a special blend that had been assembled for a renowned Hollywood agent. It’s true that a bottle of the cult Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley sold for US$500,000 at a charity auction but, as it contained the equivalent of eight standard bottles, the price was really quite modest. Sadly, for the mean-spirited wine investors (hoarders), the last mentioned two high-rollers weren’t even old wines, coming from 2015 and 2000 respectively.

What about the most expensive wine that was never sold or drunk? It is said to be a bottle of Château Margaux 1921 from the collection of that great US wine buff, President Jefferson. It was pride of place at a dinner when it was knocked over by a hapless waiter. The wine merchant had a price of US$500,000 on it but the insurance only paid him half that amount, judging that was the amount actually spilled. I suspect that if the waiter got tipped, it was out.

The most valuable bottle of wine in the world is priceless. It is the Speyer wine, found in a Roman grave in 1867 near the town of the same name in Germany. It rests still unopened in the Speyer Museum and is thought to date from between 325 and 350 A.D. The contents have probably seen better days.

The Speyer wine.

But few of us who cellar wine do not do it for financial gain. We do it for pleasure, hoping the wine will evolve into something more interesting and enjoyable than when it’s young. What changes can we expect?

Young wines tend to be vibrant, showing the bright fruity characters of the grapes from which, they are made. Some varieties, such as sauvignon blanc, gewürtztraminer and muscat have very distinctive aromas and flavours and this can be their main attraction. You may gain little by ageing them. With time, the primary fruitiness of young wine fades and becomes overlain by secondary bottle age characters of a more savoury nature. This produces layers of complexity that young wines tend to lack.

Newly bottled young wines may be disjointed so that their individual components protrude. In whites, sharpness from acidity or sweetness from residual grape sugar may be prominent, while reds and some dry whites may be grippy or hard due to tannins. Yes, white wines can have tannins as well as reds, although generally in lesser amounts. With time these rough edges marry into the wine and it becomes more harmonious. This may take months or years, depending on the wine. The best wines for cellaring generally start with plenty of fruitiness, richness and body so they still have enough to blend in with bottle age characters as they develop. Leave a wine too long, however, and it will start to go over the hill, losing character and becoming lean and dried out. The aim is to drink the wine when it is at its best. It’s all a matter of timing but generally there is no rush as the entire process is slow and measured in years, rather than months.

Pegasus Bay wines are made to put away, which is why we tend to release them later than most wineries. We hold them back until we feel that they are ready to drink but that doesn’t mean they won’t improve further with careful cellaring. To help you know when to drink our wines, we have recently tasted a range and our advice is summarised in the accompanying chart. It is only a guide and relies on you having good cellaring conditions.

Cellar Potential

Cellar Potential refers to the maximum additional time a wine might benefit from being aged, however most should be drinking excellently right now. A red grading does not mean the wine is past it’s prime, but that it will no longer benefit from further aging. All wines prior to 2002 are marked as drink now, as these wines were produced under cork, and this may result in significant bottle variation. Please note this chart is for 750mls unless indicated. Larger bottles will age for longer than indicated here.

From the Prescription Pad

Recently, I happened to be in Greece, driving past Mount Olympus, the peaks of which were surrounded in thunderous looking black cloud while its base and surrounding plain were bathed in bright sunshine. The effect was enchanting. What wasn’t so pleasing was that our planned ascent was cancelled and we were restricted to a ramble in the foothills. I had been keen to explore the summits, reputedly home of the ancient Greek gods, but I was secretly relieved; my climbing skills would not be shown up.

Twelve seems to be a lucky number for the godlike, and that’s how many they had atop that lofty hill. Chief among them was Zeus with his fractious wife, Hera. From their strategic vantage point, the gods could pry on mere mortals below, indulging in a little sport with them when they wanted. Not infrequently did this libertine bunch have such whimsical desires, sometimes of a sexual nature. One day, Zeus happened to spy Kadmos, king of Thebes, who had arrived below as a penniless migrant from the Middle East, bringing nothing worthwhile, apart from Europe’s first alphabet. But Zeus’s eye was taken by the king’s nubile daughter, Semele, who was bathing in the river, having been splattered with blood from animals old Kadmos had sacrificed to that very god. So that night Zeus visited Semele’s bedchamber, assuming various guises, such as a young man, a lion, a panther, a snake and a bull (he might have been a rotter but he wasn’t short on imagination). Zeus tried to cheer her up after he had taken her, casually mentioning that he was a god and that they would live together forever on Mount Olympus after he had dumped the grump, Hera. He might not have bothered, because it turned out that Semele wasn’t remotely upset and, at her insistence, their trysts became a nightly affair. Crafty Hera got wind of this and put the kibosh on it. She took the shape of Semele’s trusted old nurse and suggested the poor girl persuade Zeus to show himself in godly form, just to reassure everybody that things were kosher. Silly old Zeus had solemnly agreed to fulfil his mistress’s desire when, to his horror, she revealed her request. That night, in all his armoured splendour, with his trustiest thunderbolt and a heavy heart, he made the requested visit. There was a flash of lightning and the bedchamber, contents, and the hapless Semele, were destroyed but not before Zeus had rescued their unborn son. This he did by slashing his thigh, concealing the boy in the wound from nosy old Hera.

We were never to know if it was a painful birth or whether a midwife assisted but, when full-term, the son of Zeus and Semele somehow popped out. He was a jolly, chubby fellow, with two stubby horns on his forehead. Zeus gave him the Greek name of Dionysus but when the ancient Romans took him over they renamed him Bacchus. Zeus worried that Hera might do the little chap mischief so he got another of his illicit offspring, Hermes the winged messenger, to take him to Semele’s sister, for safekeeping. There he remained until her mad husband chased them away.

At some point, good old Hermes intervened and took the kid to mystical Mount Nysa, perhaps somewhere in the Middle East, depositing him in a great cavern to concealed him from the ever-jealous Hera. His safekeeping was entrusted to nymphs so it’s not surprising he had a reputation of being somewhat effeminate. This impression was doubtless reinforced by his amiable nature and appearance. He had a mass of curls, wreathed in vine leaves and grapes but woe betides those who imagined he was sissy! Bacchus had acquired a couple of panthers by outrunning them and made them pull him around in a cart. Playmates included the pipe playing Pan, with his goat’s horns and feet, a few centaurs, half human and half horse, and hordes of Satyrs, who were ugly critters, resembling a human-monkey cross. This motley troop was set on one thing, having a rip-roaring time, and at this stage the adolescent Bacchus hadn’t even invented wine, although he loved grapes.

The young Baccus by the Italian painter Caravaggio 1571 – 1610

Bacchus’s best pal, athletic satyr called Ampelos, was killed trying to ride a wild bull. The distraught Bacchus planted a wild grape vine on the grave. His mate must’ve been very nutritious because in a couple of days the vine was enormous and covered in ripe berries, sweeter and juicier than wild grapes. Being a food waste Nazi, Bacchus crushed them up but there was so much juice he and his mates couldn’t polish it all off. A few days later, they found it to be alive and frothing. The heavenly liquid made their tongues tingle and they started to feel ever so jolly. So Bacchus had invented the stuff for which he is best remembered and, in the process, he had become the god of wine. In memory of his friend, the Greeks called grape vines ampelos and we still call the study of these ampelography. But Bacchus was so upset by his chum’s death that he castrated a couple of wild bulls, yoking them to his cart. This is said to be how oxen became the ancient world’s beasts of servitude.

By the time Bacchus reached manhood, he had conquered the east, not by force but by the power of wine, and he decided to seek out daddy’s home on Mount Olympus. On his way, he liberally doled out vines, a bit like an ancient Johnny Appleseed. On passing through Greece, the new god-figure took advantage of the wife of king Oeneus, giving the old chap a vine and a lesson on fermentation by way of compensation, which is why to this day the study winemaking is called oenology. A hospitable Greek peasant, to whom Bacchus dished out a vine, became enraged when a baby goat ate the grapes and he flayed the kid, obtaining it’s intact skin. This he cleverly turned into a flexible bag to hold this wine. Before then, wine would oxidise once the container was broached but this ingenious fellow had just made the equivalent of the bag in the box. Who said that the Aussies invented it?

Bacchus had many well-known adventures while returning to Mount Olympus, including granting King Midas’s ill-considered wish and stumbling across the beautiful and clever Ariadne on the island of Naxos. She was in a dreadful tizz, having been dumped there by Theseus, the son of the king of Athens. Given that the lass had saved the wretched youth from being gobbled by the fearsome Minator, half bull and half man, that lived in the labyrinth beneath her father’s palace in Crete, you would have thought Theseus would have been more decent. Perhaps the churlish brat was put out that she was clearly more intelligent than him. At any rate, Bacchus knew a good thing when he saw it, marrying her and whisking her back to Olympus, where, to Hera’s displeasure, Zeus made Ariadne immortal, like his son. Being made immortal was a big deal back then as only a couple of other humans had got in on the act.

Hera had taken a dislike to her stepson and complained that he was far too sissy to be on Olympus. Zeus, however, put her right, saying his son was the most powerful of gods and at times even ruled his wine loving father. For his part, Bacchus couldn’t believe bitchy old Hera was the real deal and persuaded Zeus to come clean about their whakapapa. His mum, Semele, Zeus reluctantly confessed, was miserably lurking around in hell, where he had been tricked into sending her. He found it even harder to admit that he, the king of the gods, was too frightened to do anything about it. The adage, “like father, like son”, clearly post-dated Greek mythology because Bacchus didn’t hesitate. He whipped down to hell and confronted the wily old Hades who, after a bit of argy-bargy, agreed to let Semele go but only if “in return you give me one of the three that you hold most dear amongst the mortals”. It took Bacchus only a milli-second to shake the old boy’s hand and seal the deal. Then he gave Hades one of the vines from the wreath on his head, telling the king it would cheer up proceedings in his dreary old kingdom. Thereupon, Bacchus snatched his mother away from under the nose of the gobsmacked ruler who couldn’t complain that a vine wasn’t really the type of mortal he intended. Bacchus took mum up to the penthouse on Mount Olympus where the overjoyed Zeus let her join the miserably small list of humans granted immortality.

For the rest of his endless existence Bacchus has spent his life whooping it up and having a great time with the crowd. Undoubtedly, there could be worse fates.


Recent Seasons

Drought conditions were staved off by a midsummer downpour in 2008 and there followed beautiful weather. Rain in the latter part of autumn encouraged some noble botrytis in riesling. 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


750 ml and Magnum 1.5 lt
In some classic wine producing regions, such as Germany and Alsace, 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 Wines of New Zealand and this 2015 shows why. Reviews are just starting to arrive.

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

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

93/100 Off-dry and packed with richness ...Wealth of ripe peach and mango ... Really weighty and concentrated
Nick Stock, USA

PEGASUS BAY RIESLING 2008 - Special Aged Release

See 'Special Aged Release Wines' and 'Recent Seasons' for details.  The following have been some of the wine writer's earlier comments.

GOLD MEDAL Exotically intense ... Full-bodied, off-dry.
Sommelier Wine Awards,, UK

5 stars Probably most obviously five-star wine tasted in quite awhile.
Giles Hind,

Top 10 One of my top 10 Favourite wines in the last year.
Geoff Last, Calgary Herald, CA


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

96/100  Explodes with flavour and texture .... A fantastic wine!
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, NZ

5 stars 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 Bordeaux tradition of blending sauvignon blanc with semillon, fermenting them with the grapes natural yeasts, and aging the wine 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 cellaring potential, making it a true food wine rather than just a party pleaser. Accordingly, we hold this wine back and regularly release it when many straight sauvignon blancs of the same vintage are over the hill.

5 stars  19/20  Mouth filling, floavoursome, deep core ... Greengages, nectarines, gooseberry ... Subtle layer of nutty oak ... rich, vibrant and bold.
Raymond Chan, NZ

5 stars Absolute classic ... Creamy, peachy ... Fine acidity, elegance ... Softness complexity and length.  Classy example of rare New Zealand blend ... Gorgeous.
Dish Magazine NZ

93/100  Very concentrated ... Wealth of ripe lemon, cool fruits and bright tropical fruit.
Nick Stock, USA

5 stars  Smoky richness with a long sustained finish ... Will evolve into an intricate, layered wine.
Winestate Magazine AUS

Dry, richly textual ... Consistently one of the South Island's most distinctive whites ... Aging superlatively well for up to 10 years.
Joelle Thompson, NZ


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

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

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


Magnum 1.5 lt
This was made in the same way as the 2016 Chardonnay mentioned above.

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… Seamless. 
Michael Cooper,, Listener Magazine NZ


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 in the latter place (see Fortissimo). This 2016 Muscat has the intensity of Muscat Beaumes de Venise but is made in a drier style. We restrict sale to our mail order and cellar door customers. We think it is very special but as it is not a general release we do not have any reviews. Here are some cellar notes:

“Baked pears, pawpaw, citrus flowers, organge zest, cinnamon, root ginger and butterscotch … mouth filling and unctuous… seam of minerality and a tangy acidity balance its 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.

94/100  Complex aromas and flavours, honey, poached pears and apples ... Lush, rich, sweet and with the texture of melted butter ... Long and engaging finish.
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, NZ

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

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 is then matured for 18 months in oak barriques from artisan Burgundian coopers. 

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

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

94/100 Filled with raw energy ... Pinosity and abundance of individuality ... Red fruits, mushroom and soft dried herb.  Long finish.
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, NZ


Magnum 1.5 lt
This Pinot and the others mentioned below were made in the same way as the 2014 above but they have been held back before release because of the larger bottles.  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 uder $A80 tasted during 2017.

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

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 textural wine ... Extraordinarily lingering finish demonstrating real power.  Supremely elegant. 
Bob Campbell MW, NZ


Jeroboam 3 lt
This wine has now matured beautifully in the large bottle format and is now just the thing for that special celebration. 

96/100  A sense of real depth ... mobile tannins and the sort of structual complexity and completeness that is the envy of most other NZ pinot noir makers.
Nick Stock, USA

5 stars  91/100  Full-flavoured ... plum, spice,black cherry, floral/violet ... savoury and mineral.  Mouthfilling 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

PEGASUS BAY PINOT NOIR 2008 - Special Aged Release

See 'Special Aged Release Wines' and 'Recent Seasons' for details.  We think it is now drinking beautifully.  The following have been wine writers' earlier comments.

5 stars 18.5/20  Concentrated core of fruit ... Fine-grained tannins ... Long and sustained.
Raymond Chan, NZ

5 stars 94/100 Cherry, spice, dried herbs ... Beautifully poised and smooth ... Fine-grained tannins.
Sam Kim, Wine Orbit NZ

92+/100  Dark berry, Floral ... Rich and concentrated ... Textured ... Long finish.
Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate USA

92/100  ... Very intense flavours ... Harmonious ... Most impressive with surperb length.
Steve Tanzer, International Wine Cellar USA


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 it has recently been released we have received only one review. 

5 stars 18.5+/20  Concentrated ... Blackberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, lifted floral elements and spiceRefined Merlot Cabernt blend on a vibrant palate with a fine structure.
Raymond Chan, NZ


Magnum 1.5 lt
This wine was made in the same way as the 2016 mentioned above. It was awarded five stars in Australia's Winestate Magazine, not bad going, considering the strength of the Aussie competition.

5 stars Delightful aromas ... Black plum and juicy redcurrant ... Immensely appealing ... Finely judged powdery tannins support the structure ... Excellent length.
Winestate Magazine, AUS

ExcellentPerfumed with red fruits, tangy berry and chocolate ...Spice and dried herbs. Deceptively powerful ... Potential.
Mark Henderson, Otago Daily Times NZ

4.5 stars  Deeply coloured, blackcurrant, plum and spice ... Excellent depth, complexity and harmony.
Michael Cooper,, NZ



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. 

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

94/100  Rich and complex layers of flavour ... Grapefruit, marmalade, quince and honey.
Phil Parker, OnMas Magazine NZ

94/100  Powerful ... Structure is impeccably judged, reining in massive amounts of flavour perfectly.
Nick Stock, USA

93/100  Flavoursome with honey, toast, ginger and floral flavours... A rich and complex wine that should develop well. 
Bob Campbell MW,  NZ

5 stars 18.5/20  Dense heart packed with harmoniously integrated flavours ... Real body and persistence.
Raymond Chan, 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 ... fasinatingly complex.
Mark Henderson, Otago Daily Times NZ


Over the years, this late harvest riesling has been one of our most popular wines but is made only in special vintages.  2014 was definitely one of such (see under 'Recent Seasons'), in making this wine we hand-selected only bunches that had 30% or more of noble botrytis.

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

96/100  Lemon, orange, honey, peach and apples.  Delicious with complexity and great length.
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier, 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

5 stars  Excellent balance ... Pure, rich and long.
WineNZ Magazine 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. 

5 stars 18.5/20  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


375 ml
Finale is a barrel fermented wine in the style of Sauternes and is only made in special years.  Due to the exceptional conditions during the latter part of the vintage (see under 'Recent Seasons'), we selected only the most beautifully noble botrytic sauvignon blanc berries to make this wine.  The smll amount of juice obtained was fermented by the grapes natural yeasts in artisan French oak barriques and matured in these.  As it has recently been released we have received only one review.

4.5 stars Dried apricot, mango and papaya with manuka honey and beeswax ... Lots of barley sugar but limey acid spine keeping it fresh and juicy.  Great Length.
Winestate Magazine, AUS 


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 only have one review.

5 stars 18.5/20  Intense aromas of must, fresh grapes and herbs with lifted floral notes ... Dryish and medium bodied ... Soft, refined acidity ... Mineral and smoke on the finish.
Raymond Chan, NZ


Magnum 1.5 lt
This wine is a selection of the barrels that we feel best express the vintage and our terroir.

"Citrus and stone fruits (peach and nectarine) with underlying savoury impressions of brioche, toast and struck match complexity.  Mouthy filling and powerful with a core of minerality and acidity which draws out the finish".


750 ml and Magnum 1.5 lt
We only produce Prima Donna Pinot Noir in exceptional years as mentioned in 'Recent Seasons', 2013 was certainly one such.  It was made in the same way as Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2015 mentioned above.  Prima Donna is a blend of the barrels that we feel best reflect the vintage and our unique terroir.  It mainly comes from our oldest, lowest cropping vines that are non-grafted.  As it has only recently been released the reviews are just starting to appear but 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".

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 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


Jeroboam 3 lt
As mentioned in 'Recent Seasons', this wine is the product of a beautifully warm and early vintage.

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 ... Raymond Chan, NZ.
Michael Cooper, Buyers’ Guide to New Zealand Wines 2014. NZ


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

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

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

93/100 Bright violet-like fragrance, rich dark berry fruits.  Regal tannins and pristine blueberry flavours.  A superb mid-weight flavoursome red.
Nick Stock, USA

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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