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 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

Settled weather over flowering resulted in a moderate fruit set. The subsequent warm summer then allowed the grapes to ripen beautifully. Late season conditions were favourable for the development of noble botrytis, essential for the production of this wine style.

THE HARVEST AND WINEMAKING

With its large diurnal range and long lingering autumns, North Canterbury is an ideal playground for Riesling, and Bel Canto is a perfect example of this. After an extended hang time, the grapes were picked with a portion of noble botrytis and a ripeness of around 25 Brix. The free run juice was then fermented slowly at cool temperatures to help the wine retain its vibrant fruit characters and varietal purity. Alcoholic fermentation was left to continue until a residual sugar level of around 5 g/l was achieved. At all stages, the wine 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 lemon-straw. On the nose there is an abundance of citrus, in particular the orange zest that is such a regional feature of North Canterbury Rieslings. There are also aromas of apricot, ginger and spice. The long hang time and influence of botrytis has resulted in a wine that is rich and full bodied, with ripe phenolics that add structure and length. It is mouth filling, yet balanced with refreshing acidity and a dry finish. 

Download Tasting Notes


2017

93/100
Exotic … variety of candied stone-fruit with guava and apple pastry holding the finish … The palate has distinctive weight and richness …”
- Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com, USA
95/100
“A gorgeous rendition of dry riesling, it is richly fruited and fragrant … concentrated palate that is generously flavoured and persistent.  The wine is elegantly opulent and delectable
- Sam Kim, wineorbit.co.nz, NZ
94/100
“   big bold complex wine … A richly-textured Riesling with a lingering finish
- Bob Campbell MW, bobcampbell.nz, NZ

2015

94/100
A very powerful and essence-like expression of pickled lime, preserved lemon and baked peach fruits. The structure is impeccably judged, reining in massive amounts of flavor perfectly.
- Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com, USA
“… concentrated, dense heart packed with harmoniously integrated flavours of ripe citrus fruits, marmalade, honeysuckle and musk.  This has real body and presence, and the palate has a rounded and gently unctuous mouthfeel….concentrated dry Riesling with ripe citrus fruits, honey, musk and marmalade botrytis flavours on a rounded, unctuous palate”
- Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz, NZ
93/100
Dry, flavoursome riesling with honey, toast, lime, ginger and floral flavours. Quite a weighty example, with a drying backbone of phenolics and gentle acidity. A rich and complex wine that should develop well.
- Bob Campbell MW, bobcampbell.nz, NZ

2014

“... this outstanding North Canterbury wine shines in just such a fashion with its tropical fruit aromas, juicy acidity, and deliciously long finish.  Its drinks beautifully now but can age for a decade or more.”
- Joelle Thompson, Drinksbiz, NZ
92/100
“… concentrated and with a seductive satiny texture, it is an opulent, Rubenesque expression of a dry Riesling, and it works beautifully.” .
- Lisa Perrotti-Brown, MW - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, USA
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, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz, 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, 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, UK
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, NZ

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, AUS
“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, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz, 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, AUS
“…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, AUS

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, AUS
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, AUS
“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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Off Licence.
Licence Holder:Donaldson Family Limited T/A:Pegasus Bay Winery.
Licence no:57/OFF/458/2019 Exp:16/03/2022