The Season

Budburst was early because the weather over that period was one of the warmest ever recorded. Late spring and early summer however, were unseasonably cool and cloudy, sufficiently slowing the development of the grapes to cause us concern. The skies then cleared and we had three to four months of unbroken sunshine. This enabled us to leave the fruit on the vine to attain excellent maturity and ripeness.

The Vineyard and the Vines

The vines, most of which are over a quarter of a century old, grow on north facing, gradually descending terraces. The site is warm during the day, but cool during the night which allows the fruit to ripen fully while retaining good natural acid levels. There is excellent drainage, which is helped by stones being intermingled with the soil. The variety of chardonnay, from which the wine is made, naturally produces low crops and this is enhanced by the vines being on their own roots and not grafted. A period of cooler weather, mentioned above, occurred over flowering and added to the low crop levels, which has given the wine extra depth and concentration.

Harvest and Wine Making:

We use traditional Burgundian winemaking methods. The fruit was hand harvested in late April, the timing of each picking being planned to strike the best balance between the fruits’ ripeness, freshness and acidity. The unclarified juice obtained by gentle pressing was put into large oak barrels (puncheons), where it was allowed to undergo primary fermentation by the grapes’ indigenous yeasts. After this had stopped the wine was left maturing in these barrels over winter. When the cellar warmed in the early summer after harvest it commenced secondary (malo-lactic) fermentation naturally without the addition of micro-organisms. The exact amount of malo-lactic fermentation permitted was judged by regular tasting. After a year the wine was removed from the barrels and carefully blended according to taste and then put into a stainless steel tank to help it further mature and marry prior to bottling 6 months later. The use of puncheons, only a minority of which were new, and finishing maturation in tank has lessened the pickup of oak flavour and allowed the fruit to express itself. Virtuoso is made only in special years and comes from a small selection of the barrels which best express the vintage, our older vines and the terroir.

The Wine

The bouquet and flavours are reminiscent of lemons, limes, white fleshed peaches and yellow plums with hints of fresh figs. There are also impressions of barbequed sweet corn, grilled mushrooms, wood smoke and liquorice, which add a savoury element. In the mouth the wine is concentrated, yet refined and stylish with a seam of minerality. Crisp acidity, which flows through the palate, supports the lingering after-taste. While ready to drink on release this wine should become even more multifaceted and complex with careful cellaring over the next 5-6 years and remain like this for over a decade. 

Download Tasting Notes


2010

91+/100
The 2010 Virtuoso Chardonnay begins a bit subdued at this stage yet shows notes of apple tart, peach cobbler and ginger-honey, plus some cedar and citrus undertones. The full-bodied palate is solidly structured with tight-knit fruit supported by a vibrant acid line and a finish with great length. It should fan-out with a further year in bottle and drink it 2017+.
- Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, USA
90/100
“Plenty to like about the nose on this wine. Rich, juicy stone fruit characters of white peach and nectarine, with lighter citrus flavours following behind. Spicy and pure on the palate…”.
- Nick Stock www.jamessuckling.com, USA
"A wonderful Waipara wine, just starting to break into full stride, with peach, nectarine and nut flavours,showing lovely depth and drinkability.“.
- Michael Cooper, The Listener, NZ
96/100
A wine of commanding presence, the complex bouquet shows peach, mango, grapefruit and nutty oak aromas with subtle flinty notes. It's undeniably powerful on the palate yet perfectly balanced and harmonious. This formidable chardonnay is multi-layered and sophisticated. .
- Sam Kim, www.wineorbit.co.nz

2009

93+/100 Points
“The 2009 Virtuoso Chardonnay is a barrel selection wine, from older vines on their own rootstocks and naturally fermented/aged in French oak puncheons, 50% new. Crisp, concentrated and medium bodied in the mouth, it’s still young and taut but has a gorgeous satiny texture and a long finish.”
—Lisa Perrotti-Brown, MW, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, USA
96/100 Points
“One of the great chardonnay labels, Pegasus Bay have delivered an exceptional wine from the 2009 vintage. It's gorgeously complex on the nose displaying stone fruit, oatmeal, cashew, vanilla and subtle savoury notes. The palate is superbly concentrated and focused with rich texture, finishing extremely long and expansive. Matured for three years before release - one year in barrel on lees, one in tank on light lees and one in bottle. Based on previous vintages of Virtuoso, this stunning beauty will develop graciously.”
—Sam Kim, Wine Orbit, NZ

2008

“…Rich, tightly structured Waipara wine, from 24 year- old vines….crisp and minerally. A cool climate style with real verve and drive, still unfolding.”
—Michael Cooper, WineState, Australia

2006

95/100 Points
“…Top wine of the tasting - A heavyweight chardonnay label in every respect. Very intense wine with a strong but appropriate oak influence that is balanced by powerful citrus and stone-fruit flavours. The wine has masses of sizzled butter, savoury yeast lees and roasted nut characters. Assertive acidity adds energy and ageing potential…”
—Bob Campbell MW, Gourmet Traveller Wine, Australia
“I tasted a bottle of ’06 Virtuoso the other day and I was pole-axed with carnal, vinous desire … this is one of the most riveting whites of the year and for 20 quid you will go absolutely nuts when you taste the lush, cool, layered fruit and the staggering minerality underpinning all of the action…you can put it up against any of your Burgundys and ask your friends for a vote. Do not bet against this Virtuoso.”
—Matthew Jukes, Money Week Magazine, UK

2005

“From Waipara, this is a striking wine-rich, complex and seamless...it shows excellent weight and a fine thread of acidity…”
—WineState, Australia
“…It is a powerful, seamless wine, minerally and complex”
—Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide 2009, NZ
93/100 Points
“The 2005 Virtuoso reminded me of a Corton-Charlemagne…it could still benefit from a few more months in bottle as the oak still needs time to meld into the structure of this outstanding wine”
—Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, USA
Download Reviews

Pegasus Bay

Are you over 18?

To enter this website you must be of legal drinking age.



Customers from our old website will need to create an account with your existing email address.

Re-register your account →