The spring and early summer were warm and so exceptionally dry that we felt the vines might suffer from the effects of drought. In February we had the unexpected; a torrential downpour set the dry streams gurgling merrily and totally replenished the ground water reserves. Late in autumn we had humid conditions which led to some botrytis developing in riesling. Many producers picked early to minimise the effect of this but fortunately we braved it out until the weather cleared and the patches of botrytis became beautifully shrivelled and noble.

This fruit came from our oldest vines in a part of the vineyard on its own roots.  We selected the most golden bunches which had been exposed to the sun and which had a portion of beautifully clean noble-botrytis. Our aim with BEL CANTO (beautiful singing) is to use late harvest partially botrytic fruit, similar to that which we select for our ARIA (operatic solo song), but to craft a dry wine of great extract, fullness and complexity. This is in contrast to ARIA’s elegance, purity and lingering sweetness.

In keeping with these goals, the wine was made in quite a different way from ARIA, with some of the juice  being left unclassified. It was then fermented by indigenous “wild” yeasts and matured in old barrels. We handled the wine very gently throughout to retain some of its natural carbon dioxide to give it a touch of spritzig.

The wine shows bright citrus flavours with characters of lemons, limes and oranges, supported by hints of nectarines and white fleshed peaches. These interplay with impressions of passionfruit, tropical spices and Turkish musk. It expands in the mouth to become full bodied and concentrated. This wine is big boned, taut and muscley, with a spine of natural acidity and minerality which extends the palate into a dry, firm grapefruity finish.

While ready to drink on release it will improve with careful cellaring but drinking is expected to be at its best within 3–4 years.

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2014

19/20
It’s a complex Riesling with apricot, honey, spice, clove, floral and citrus characters – a real medley of interesting flavours….. It gives a nod in the direction of Alsace.
- Bob Campbell MW, NZ
19/20
“…The wine is smooth in texture and there is considerable power and drive. The alcohol and lacy acidity are balanced, and the wine has excellent proportion, the dense core unfolding succulent citrus and exotic tropical fruit flavours on a very long and sustained finish. This is a full and substantial dryish Riesling with citrus, marmalade and honied flavours, showing drive, power and balance.” .
- Raymond Chan, www.raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz

2011

93/100
Very rich-smelling nose of citrus and tropical fruits: mango, guava and papaya. Some botrytis-induced complexity on the nose, too. The palate swells impressively with a tropical flourish before finishing crisp and clean with a vibrant, lively acid line.
- Nick Stock www.jamessuckling.com, USA
93/100
'An evocative name for a delicious wine. This full-bodied "dry" Riesling from the Waipara Valley is actually off-dry, but it's none the worse for that. This is exotic and rich, with old vine complexity and flavours of lime, peach and nectarine. It's especially good with spicy food, but is also delicious as an aperitif.’.
- Tim Atkin MW, Decanter Magazine
From Waipara riesling supremos Pegasus Bay, comes this amazing opulent and intense example with a shimmering citrus and mineral salt character coursing through its lush palate of honey, marmalade, peach and lime oi.
- Jo Burzynska, NZ Herald

2010

96/100 Points
“The Donaldson family offers an exotic range of personalities in their iconic business, and this wine reflects this range beautifully … the palate is fleshy, compact, intensely long, with incredible concentration and complexity a world apart from many clinically clean Rieslings in the market place; this wine is spectacular and will give pleasure for many years to come.”
—Ben Edwards, James Halliday’s Wine Companion, Australia
“The bouquet is complex … the palate weighty, fresh and intense … finely balanced acidity and a minerally, lasting finish. A highly distinctive wine … it's a top candidate for the cellar … This is a complex, funky, layered Riesling.”
—Michael Cooper's Buyer’s Guide 2012, NZ
90/100 Points
“… Medium bodied, dry and crisp, it offers plenty of citrusy fruit in the mouth and a long tangy finish.”
—Lisa Perrotti-Brown, MW – Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, USA
“… this has very attractive and mouthfilling flavours … The textures are rounded and soft … The underlying acidity becomes apparent on the very long, sustained finish, adding lusciousness to the complex fruit and honeyed flavours … This is a complex, funky, layered Riesling.”
—Raymond Chan www.raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz

2009

91+/100 Points
“… It gives a beautiful nose … Concentrated, complex flavour … and the finish is long. Approachable now, it should develop wonderfully over the next 6-8+ years.”
—Lisa Perrotti-Brown/Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate, USA
93/100 Points
Top 12 NZ Rieslings – “Big, bold characterful wine that couldn't come from any other winery. ... this concentrated and complex example totally seduces me ... Very classy wine ... It has all the flavour and weight of a sweeter style, but it is dry.”
—Bob Campbell MW, Gourmet Traveller Wine, Australia
“…rich wine with notably intense, citrusy flavours. Lemon-scented, it is complex, slightly spicy and minerally, with good acid spine … It shows great individuality and poise.”
—Michael Cooper WineState, Australia

2009

“Fresh, lime, steely and racy on the nose. Very complete and beautifully balanced with real pizzazz to it. Already a fine aperitif. Dry”
—Jancis Robinson, UK
93/100 Points
“Another trade mark Pegasus Bay dry Riesling...This is full of ripe stone fruits and citrus, fully textured and kaleidoscopic”
—Nick Stock, MBM, Australia
93/100 Points
“…it’s a very good Riesling made in an Alsace style with plenty of stone fruit, citrus and some floral flavours plus good richness…”
—Bob Campbell & Huon Hooke, GTW Magazine, Australia
“Dry Riesling can be a difficult style to do well in our climes, but this full-flavoured example from Riesling supremos Pegasus Bay has a richness that pulls this off with aplomb. Made from late-harvest fruit from the estate’s oldest vines, it’s an ultra-intense wine in which notes of white peach, mandarin peel, blossom and exotic spice combine with its fresh lift of mineral, grapefruit and tongue-tingling spritz.”
—Jo Burzynska, New Zealand Herald
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Pegasus Bay

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