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.
Cooler than average spring temperatures led to a smaller set, however this resulted in excellent fruit concentration. A warm summer and long lingering autumn then followed, allowing this smaller crop to reach optimum ripeness.
Harvest and Wine Making
Maestro is part of our reserve series and represents the very best of our Bordeaux fruit, coming from some of the oldest plantings in the vineyard. As with all our reserves, this celebrated claret style wine is only made in exceptional years, the last being 2009. After being picked in May, the grapes began fermentation naturally in stainless steel tanks. During this process the juice was regularly drained and sprayed back over the cap of floating grape skins (rather than plunging), to ensure a perfect tannin balance was extracted from the fruit. The wine was then gently pressed off and put into French oak barriques (50% new). The following summer, when the weather warmed, it underwent a natural malo-lactic (secondary) fermentation. After maturing in oak for 2 years, the various batches were then carefully blended in varying portions to produce the most complex and balanced wine possible. The finished product is a blend of 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet, and 10% Malbec.
The wine has a dense inky appearance, suggesting concentration and weight. The aroma is bursting with dark fruit (blackberry, blackcurrent, plum), but underlying there are also hints of vanilla pod, cigar box, liquorice and black olive. The palate is mouth filling and rich, backed by a spine of muscular yet fine grained tannins, that draw out the wine’s length and will help it age gracefully. While ready to drink on release, it should develop a range of additional nuances as it matures in the bottle.
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