THE FAMILY

The Donaldson Family have been seriously involved in viticulture and winemaking for over 40 years.  Founder Ivan Donaldson planted the first Canterbury vineyard in 1976 and went on to establish Pegasus Bay in 1986 with his wife Christine.  It is a true family business, with all four of their sons and two spouses involved, managing various aspects.

THE VINEYARD AND THE VINES

The vineyard is located within the Waipara Valley of North Canterbury, on free draining, north facing terraces carved out of New Zealand’s Southern Alps by an ice-age glacier. It benefits from being in the lee of the Teviotdale Range, giving maximum protection from the Pacific’s easterly breezes and thus creating a unique mesoclimate. The vines are over 30 years old, with a large proportion planted on their own roots. The soil is free draining and of low fertility, resulting in naturally reduced vine vigour. This produces low yields of optimally ripened, high quality, flavourful grapes, which fully express the qualities of this unique terroir. The vineyard has warm days, but the nights are amongst the coolest in the Waipara Valley, drawing out the ripening period of the grapes, while still retaining good natural acidity.

THE SEASON

A perfect summer followed by a warm dry autumn allowed us to leave the grapes on the vine until late in the season. The cool and misty mornings provided ideal conditions for the onset of noble botrytis.

HARVEST AND WINE MAKING

The grapes were picked over several weeks at the end of May, with multiple passes being carried out in the vineyard to select bunches with between 30-50% botrytis. The grapes were then gently pressed and the juice fermented slowly at cool temperatures to help the wine retain its vibrant fruit characters and varietal purity. At all stages, from fermentation to bottling, it was handled very carefully to help retain a little of its natural carbon dioxide. This has resulted in a small amount of spritzig, which adds extra liveliness to the wine and accentuates its freshness.

THE WINE

The colour is bright lemon, with aromas of citrus (lime/ mandarin), stone fruit (apricot/ peach/nectarine) and also honeydew melon. Layered beneath there are floral notes reminiscent of honeysuckle and jasmine. While the influence of botrytis adds concentration and richness on the palate, there is also a seam of crisp acidity that ensures the wine remains fresh and lively, with a balanced and lingering finish.

Download Tasting Notes


2014

92/100
“Offering up pronounced notes of lemon marmalade, acacia honey… offers a fair bit off rich, unctuous sweetness. Marked by a racy acid backbone, which cuts through the appealing viscosity …, the refreshing finish goes on and on.”
- Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, eRobertParker.com, USA
93/100
“Bold and rich scents of honey, syrup, sweet citrus, apple tart tatin and poached orchard fruits. On the palate - lush and juicy with significant acidity and weight …. A delicious wine!“ 
- Cameron Douglas MS, camerondouglasms.blogspot.co.nz, NZ
“... It’s cleansing yet indulgent at the same time. Gorgeous stuff.“ 
- Yvonne Lorkin, yvonnelorkin.com, NZ
Excellent to outstanding
“…A sweet, powerful and intense wine … layers of flavour: textural and richly creamy: sweetness yet with zingy acidity keeping it fresh.  Delicious.
- Mark Henderson, Otago Daily Times, NZ
19/20
“…. excellent acidity and tension to match the unctuousness, … carries with brightness and energy to a very long moderately sweet and luscious finish ….  This is a beautifully elegant and harmoniously entwined late-pick Riesling” 
- Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz, NZ

2013

95/100
“. . Exotic fruits and spices offer a delicious package of flavours. Full-flavoured wine with a smooth texture and lingering finish. Very classy sticky . “
- Bob Campbell MW, bobcampbellwinereviews.com, NZ
18.5/20
This has an elegant, fresh and tightly bound nose with excellent presence and depth of exotic floral fragrances and lime fruit aromas intermixed with wild honey and marmalade botrytis. The integrity of the fruit shows in floral and lime clarity and the detail of nuance is beautiful….The fruit is underlined by subtle phenolic textures that emerge to balance the richness and lusciousness. This has great weight, depth and presence, with lively acidity providing the palate energy and drive. The wine flows positively to a full blossoming, sustained finish with florals, honey and musk notes.This is a beautifully fragrant and exotic sweet Riesling with a rich, finely textured palate of great presence and line.
- Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz, NZ

2012

94/100
Made from a selection of bunches with shrivelled berries for greater concentration. A delicious vintage for Aria with tree fruit and bush honey flavours. Moderately sweet Riesling but not so sweet that it can’t be enjoyed as a delicious aperitif. A successful vintage for an iconic New Zealand dessert wine style.
- Bob Campbell MW, bobcampbellwinereviews.com, NZ
94/100
"The cool 2012 season has given this sweet and rich Riesling precision and drive. It has dense concentration of fruit suggesting low yields in the vineyard….. While sweet, it is clean and precise, and would suit spicy food although I'm happy to drink glass after glass of it without any accompaniment.
- Rebecca Gibb, rebeccagibb.com, NZ 
19/20
This is a beautifully elegant and refined sweet Riesling with a balance between decadence and freshness.
-Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz, NZ

2009

92/100 Points
“wonderfully honeyed/musky character on the nose … rich and generously fruited in the mouth, it has a good backbone of refreshing acidity and a very long finish.”
—Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, USA
“A very classy wine … It should flourish for many years.”
—Michael Cooper's Buyer’s Guide 2012, NZ
95/100 Points
“It’s stunning on the nose … the palate is concentrated and generous with rich texture and lovely sweetness which is superbly balanced by the refreshing acidity.”
—Sam Kim, Wine Orbit, NZ

2008

“Peach, honey and mandarines with a mineral delicacy. Lovely freshness on the finish balanced by residual sugar. Delicious.”
—Rebecca Gibb, Decanter, UK
“Stunning – THE wine of the tasting and a sure fire GOLD in any tasting it enters. The flavours just go on and on and the mouthfeel is oily and opulent. You MUST try this.”
—TizWine.com, NZ
“Just one of the many strings in the bow of top-notch New Zealand producer Pegasus Bay, this is a wonderfully refreshing yet intensely sweet wine. Immediately identifiable as Riesling, it has a lemony, zesty freshness and superb balance. It’s hard to imagine anyone not loving this wine.”
—Beverley Blanning MW, Sommelier Journal, US
“… is a classy, very elegant Waipara wine, … fresh, pure, late harvest fruit flavours, showing excellent richness. Finely focused, with a luscious sweetness … coupled with mouth-watering acidity, it’s a beauty.”
—Michael Cooper, Winestate, AUS

2007

17.5/20 Points
“Deep lemon with lots of evolution on the nose. Honeyed wine with lots of acidity and lots of sugar - probably very difficult to make and much more complex and ambitious than most. Bravo! A real product of the vineyard. Very zesty. Hovers between medium dry and medium sweet”
—Jancis Robinson, UK
“…This wine underscores the multi-talented nature of Riesling. Poised, balanced and far from sugar dominated…”
—Cuisine Magazine, NZ
97/100 Points
“Pegasus Bay, in the Waipara region near Christchurch, makes some of New Zealand's most exotic wines. This magnificent sweet wine, perfumed beautifully and beguiling. Pristine fruit flavours and perfect balance in the mouth.”
—Huon Hooke, Sydney Morning Herald, Good Living, AUS
“The 2007 Vintage is an elegant, slightly honeyed Waipara wine with lovely ripeness and richness...great harmony.”
—Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide, 2009, NZ
—WineState Magazine, AUS
Download Reviews

Pegasus Bay

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Off Licence.
Licence Holder:Donaldson Family Limited T/A:Pegasus Bay Winery.
Licence no:57/OFF/458/2018 Exp:16/03/2019