The Season

Prima Donna is only made in special vintages. The whole growing season was ideal apart from the period when the vines were in flower. This was the coldest and wettest December Waipara has ever experienced and as a result the number of berries setting was extremely low, resulting in the smallest crops we have seen. Because of this the wine has extra concentration and depth.

The Vineyard and the Vines

Although we had tiny crops we treated the vines as we would in a normal year, giving them a large amount of manual attention well before harvest, including meticulously removing any fruit which was not of the highest quality.  When picked the fruit was beautifully mature, ripe and healthy.

Harvest and Winemaking

In making this pinot noir we used the traditional methods employed in Burgundy. The fruit was carefully hand sorted and stems removed, while retaining as many whole berries as possible then kept cool in small vats. After several days fermentation commenced through the action of the grapes “wild” yeasts.

The fermenting cap of grape skins was gently manually plunged to avoid excessive extraction and when fermentation had finished the wine was allowed to remain in contact with the skins for a number of days, the exact time being determined by taste.

The wine was then put into the barriques (50% new) of artisan burgundian coopers where it remained for 20 months. In the early summer after harvest it underwent secondary (malo-lactic) fermentation by the action of its indigenous micro-organisms. Following this the wine, which had spontaneously clarified naturally, was blended and bottled.

The Wine

The wine has a bright ruby hue. Its perfume and flavours suggest raspberries, blackberries, cherries and purple peaches intertwined with savoury hints of roast meats, grilled mushrooms, black olives and woodsmoke. While rich and mouthfilling it retains the elegance and finesse of pinot with fine ripe tannins expanding in the palate and drawing out its lingering aftertaste.

With careful cellaring it should develop additional fascinating nuances for 6-10 years and live well beyond this.

Download Tasting Notes


Rated one of the best Pinot Noirs in the world (outside of Burgundy)
- Decanter magazine, UK

“…immense purity and is terrifically crunchy. There are red cherries at the core, dark spices, earth and fine chocolate at the edge. It's very long and direct. Will age magnificently”
- Nick Stock, USA

“….rich and complex wine with impressive weight and intensity….Powerful wine with obvious cellaring potential”.
- Bob Campbell MW, NZ


Pegasus Bay’s winemaking team uses traditional Burgundian methods, including small vat fermentation and ageing the wine in French oak barriques for 18 months. Made “in small quantities in the best vintages from the oldest vines”, this flagship pinot noir is a powerful combination of intense plum, cherry and berry flavours with haunting floral notes, Oriental spices and an intriguing savoury, forest floor, rustic character. A delicious pinot with ageing potential.
- Bob Campbell MW, Gourmet Traveller Wine, Australia
A composed, svelte and powerful pinot with terrific focus and a real sense of freshness. The complexity has been cleverly engineered into place and is all spicy, brambly and foresty. The palate has sheets of tannin tilted upright, is very linear, focused and composed, long and uncompromising, yet smooth and polished. A class act.
- Nick Stock, USA
“… opens to reveal complex scents of raspberry, cola, musky spices and flowers. Sappy and fresh, with terrific depth and intensity to the lightly saline flavors of raspberry, bitter cherry and spices. This very firmly built wine finishes with a youthfully bitter quality and solid tannic spine for aging. Give it a double decanting if you plan to broach a bottle any time soon--or, better yet, cellar it for five years….”
- Steve Tanzer,, USA


“Medium-bodied, the palate is led by a solid structure of medium to firm grainy tannins and crisp acid supporting the muscular red berry and savoury flesh, finishing long.”
- Lisa Perrotti Brown, MW,,
“Top Wine of NZ tasting (100's tasted)" “…downright Chambolle-like. Sweet and densely packed but youthfully tight, with impressive inner-mouth energy giving the intense red berry and mineral flavours terrific penetration. The superb rising finish saturates the palate with mineral-driven fruit. This is painfully backward today and may yet merit an even higher score with a few years in bottle.”
- Steve Tanzer,, USA
“This is crazy pure with strawberry, flowers, raspberries and licorice. Full and very dense with fabulous tannins and length. Chewy yet polished. Drink or hold.”
- James Suckling, USA
“... should flourish for a decade. Deep and youthful in colour, it is powerful and finely fragrant, with dense cherry, plum and slight liquorice flavours, deliciously rich and well-rounded.
- Michael Cooper, Buyers Guide 2013, NZ
Download Reviews

Pegasus Bay

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