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

Warm and settled weather during flowering led to a very large initial set. Fruit thinning was then undertaken to bring the crop back to the desired level. A perfect summer, followed by a warm dry autumn enabled the subsequent grapes to be harvested with excellent flavour development and physiological ripeness.

THE HARVEST AND WINEMAKING

This wine is made in the same style as the celebrated Claret from Bordeaux, using traditional methods. 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 (25% 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 40% Merlot, 40% Cabernet, 15% Malbec and 5% Cabernet Franc.

THE WINE

The wine is deep ruby in colour. Its abundant aromas suggest blackberries, dark plums, cassis and mocha, with underlying hints of vanilla, spice, cigar box and game. The palate is rich but muscular, with a backbone of ripe tannins that provide a savoury aftertaste of black olive tapenade. While the wine is full bodied, the Merlot component ensures it remains smooth and succulent, with generous fruit weight.

Download Tasting Notes


“Pegasus Bay Merlot Cabernet ages like clockwork”

- Matthew Jukes, 100 Most Iconic Wine Estates

2013

91/100
“An impressive wine for the ball of succulent ripe plum-flavored fruit it dishes up amid succulently ripe tannins and fresh, earthy, background complexity. This has all-round appeal, casual or formal!”
- Nick Stock, jamesSuckling.com, US
“ … strong, vibrant blackcurrant, plum and spice flavours, finely integrated oak, ripe, supple tannins, and excellent depth, complexity and harmony.”
- Michael Copper, michaelcooper.co.nz, NZ
“ …. immensely appealing …. Excellent length"
- Winestate Magazine, AUS
92/100
“ … Lovely bouquet of fruit, mineral, concentration and charm … complex and intriguing … Great example from Canterbury” 
- Cameron Douglas MS, camerondouglasms.blogspot.co.nz, NZ

2012

"…The nose is seamlessly melded and reveals fragrant spices, musk and a suggestion of camphor. Medium-full bodied, the palate is softly concentrated with integrated flavours ... good depth and the palate flows smoothly with satin-like tannins, and underlying acid vitality. ... long, complex….”
- Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz

2011

“Full-coloured, with fresh plum, spice and nutty oak flavours, showing excellent complexity and depth."
- Michael Cooper’s Buyers Guide, NZ

2010

impressive complexity …” Good intensity of flavours…The oak is perfectly integrated and there’s a lovely round, supple texture in the mouth, giving superb structure and balance
- WineNZ magazine
100 best wines "Chewy, fleshy red with plum, dark berry chocolate/mocha and nutty oak flavours. Deliciously accessible red.”
- Bob Campbell MW - Taste magazine

2009

"Top Tip" “From an excellent vintage this is a bold and intense wine with aromas and flavours of dark plums, blackberries, cassis and blueberries. It has mealy style that makes it dense and long lasting.
- TizWine.com, NZ
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