The Season

Warm and dry conditions prevailed during spring and early summer so that we became concerned the vines might be affected by drought. Luckily we had a brief torrential downpour in February which set the dry streams gurgling merrily and replenished the groundwater reserves. The rest of the summer was excellent. Although we had humid conditions in late autumn we had earlier removed some leaves from the fruiting zone to allow good ventilation so the crop ripened beautifully and remained perfectly healthy.

The Vineyard and vines

The vines, which are 25 years old, grow on their own roots in well drained, stony soil on a series of north facing, gradually descending terraces. The site is warm during the day but cool at night, resulting in good ripening while retaining the berries’ natural acids. Our main variety of chardonnay, known locally as Mendoza, typically produces light crops of small berries and hence tends to make concentrated wines.

Harvesting and winemaking

We used traditional Burgundian techniques in making this chardonnay. After picking, the fruit was gently pressed and the juice put into barrels without clarification. There it had a spontaneous primary fermentation by the grapes’ own yeasts. We used large barrels, puncheons, made by artisan French coopers, to avoid excessive extraction of oak flavours. Only 30% of these were new. When the fermentation was finished the barrels were topped and the wine left on its deposit of yeast lees (sur lie) to mature in the cool of the cellar. In the summer after harvest, when the cellar warmed, the wine underwent natural secondary or malo-lactic fermentation. While each puncheon started this fermentation, the exact extent to which it was allowed to progress was determined by regular tasting of all the barrels. When it was felt an optimal balance had been achieved this fermentation was stopped. After a year it was removed from the puncheons and put into tank where it remained on light lees for a further 8 months to allow it time to integrate prior to bottling. This Virtuoso was made from a small selection of the barrels which we felt best reflected the season and the terroir.

The Wine

There is a core of aromas and flavours derived from the fruit, giving impressions of lemons, limes, peaches, greengages and loquats. These are interwoven with savoury nuances of barbequed sweet corn, grilled bacon, wood-smoke and toast. The emphasis on the palate is one of harmony and balance. The wine has restrained concentration and power but there is also elegance and finesse. A seam of minerality and tangy acidity flow through the palate, helping to draw out its lingering after-taste. While ready to drink on release, with careful cellaring it should become more complex and integrated over the next 5 or 6 years and last a decade or more.

Download Tasting Notes


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
“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, 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
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,


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


“…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


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


“From Waipara, this is a striking wine-rich, complex and 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

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Off Licence.
Licence Holder:Dr I Donaldson T/A:Pegasus Bay Winery.
Licence no:057/OFF/001/2015 Exp:22/12/2017