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. 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 during December provided optimal conditions for flowering. A very hot summer then enabled the grapes to ripen beautifully. Free draining stony soil helped mitigate the effects of some late summer rain, and the ensuing dry autumn meant the fruit was able to be picked in excellent condition.

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 April, 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 18 months, the various batches were then carefully blended to produce the best wine possible. The finished product is a blend of approximately 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec and 10% Cabernet Franc.

THE WINE

It is deep purple in colour. The nose reveals an intoxicating patchwork of both sweet and savoury aromas, with hints of liquorice, chocolate, black cherry, vanilla and spice. On the palate it is rich and mouth-filling, with fine grained silky tannins. There is satisfying body, however the Merlot component ensures the wine remains smooth and succulent, with generous fruit weight. While ready to drink now, it will evolve gracefully in the bottle for many years to come.

Download Tasting Notes


“Pegasus Bay Merlot Cabernet ages like clockwork”

- Matthew Jukes, 100 Most Iconic Wine Estates

2018

93/100
"Delightfully fruited and fragrantsucculent and smooth …  finishing long and flavoursome"
- Sam Kim, Wine Orbit, wineorbit.co.nz, NZ

2016

18.5/20
“...Concentrated … This is a refined Merlot and Cabernet based blend … on a vibrant palate with fine structure
- Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz, NZ
92/100
“ … Dry, firm textures, youthful, ripe and loaded with flavour …Plenty of length and finish … “
- Cameron Douglas MS, camerondouglasms.com, NZ
OUTSTANDING
“ … Powerful, juicy, dark fruits dance on the palate …Sumptuous fine-grained tannins and beautiful balanceAmazingly long and delicious finish …”
- Mark Henderson, Otago Daily Times, NZ
92/100
“ … This has richness and fullness on the palate with plump plums holding very deep, fleshy and long
- Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com, USA

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, USA
“ … 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, 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, NZ

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/458/2019 Exp:16/03/2022