The spring and early summer were warm and so exceptionally dry that we felt the vines might suffer from the effects of drought. In February we had the unexpected; a torrential downpour set the dry streams gurgling merrily and totally replenished the ground water reserves. Late in autumn we had humid conditions which led to some botrytis developing in riesling. Many producers picked early to minimise the effect of this but fortunately we braved it out until the weather cleared and the patches of botrytis became beautifully shrivelled and noble.

This fruit came from our oldest vines in a part of the vineyard on its own roots.  We selected the most golden bunches which had been exposed to the sun and which had a portion of beautifully clean noble-botrytis. Our aim with BEL CANTO (beautiful singing) is to use late harvest partially botrytic fruit, similar to that which we select for our ARIA (operatic solo song), but to craft a dry wine of great extract, fullness and complexity. This is in contrast to ARIA’s elegance, purity and lingering sweetness.

In keeping with these goals, the wine was made in quite a different way from ARIA, with some of the juice  being left unclassified. It was then fermented by indigenous “wild” yeasts and matured in old barrels. We handled the wine very gently throughout to retain some of its natural carbon dioxide to give it a touch of spritzig.

The wine shows bright citrus flavours with characters of lemons, limes and oranges, supported by hints of nectarines and white fleshed peaches. These interplay with impressions of passionfruit, tropical spices and Turkish musk. It expands in the mouth to become full bodied and concentrated. This wine is big boned, taut and muscley, with a spine of natural acidity and minerality which extends the palate into a dry, firm grapefruity finish.

While ready to drink on release it will improve with careful cellaring but drinking is expected to be at its best within 3–4 years.

Download Tasting Notes


2022

94/100
Alsace-style riesling with apricot, lime, orange blossom, apple and oyster shell flavours. The wine is dry but not austere. It has energy and impressive complexity. Good drinking now but with the potential to develop well with bottle age”
- Bob Campbell MW, The Real Review, NZ

2020

“Thirty-seven years later the family business is still at the top of the New Zealand wine tree, with this Riesling, sourced from a single vineyard in Waipara, one of the best in the country.  “Rich, mineral, slight petillance, dried fruits, apricots, honey: a complex, full rich style ….”

- The Wine Merchant Magazine, UK
19.5/20
“… Bel Canto – the greatest Riesling aromatic wine they make each year.  This is one of the top wines in New Zealand with its exquisite balance enormous concentration of flavour”
- Joelle Thompson, Drinksbiz magazine, NZ
96/100
“A huge, distinctive, aromatically prodigious, wine that leaps from the glass with aromas of orange blossom, marmalade, apricot, ginger and Manuka honey … This is an engaging, expressive wine that stands out from the crowd.
- New Zealand Wine Rater, Stephen Bennett MW & Lynnette Hudson, NZ
“… this wine erupts with orange zest, honeysuckle, layers of lime and quartzy minerality resulting in a dry, lipsmacking finish.
- Yvonne Lorkin, www.yvonnelorkin.com, NZ
95/100
“Distinctive, floral, aromatic and classic with aromas of lime-flower and blossoms, honeysuckle and a botrytis tickle. A silky texture as the wine touches the palate with immediately contrasting acidity … A delicious wine …”
- Cameron Douglas MS, camdouglasms.com, NZ
96/100
Impressively complex and engaging … powerful yet graceful with excellent weight and persistency. Richly textured and mouthfilling, it's brilliantly structured by firm acidity, finishing superbly long and flavoursome.”
- Sam Kim, www.wineorbit.co.nz, NZ
19+/20
“… This complex flavour bomb made from Riesling with a portion of botrytis infected grapes shows a sophisticated range of flavours with depth and intensity.”
-Candice Chow, www.raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz, NZ
93/100
“… ripe, complex riesling with ginger, cinnamon, anise, mandarin zest and bush honey flavours.”
- Bob Campbell MW, The Real Review, NZ
93/100

Beautiful Riesling … Hints of botrytis spice. Lightly sweet mouth feel.”

- James Suckling Wine Reviews, www.jamessuckling.com, USA

2019

96/100
“... Distinctive and complex … A rich, weighty, powerful wine with excellent flavour and concentration, balanced by fresh acidity. Impressive.
- New Zealand Wine Rater, Stephen Bennett MW & Lynnette Hudson, NZ
95/100
It’s a real thrill when you find a memorable Riesling. There aren’t that many of them worldwide, but Pegasus Bay shows a genius with Riesling that is rare …”
- Oz Clarke, www.threewinemen.co.uk, UK
95/100
“… It's opulent yet focused and refined long and delicious.
- Sam Kim – Wine Writer, www.wineorbit.co.nz, NZ
“One of the best Rieslings to be had outside Europe is the ‘Bel Canto’ Riesling produced by Pegasus Bay in Canterbury; it’s made in a similar way to Smaragd wines, the best wines of Austria’s Wachau region.  It takes on texture and richness as the grapes are allowed to develop certain amount of botrytis rot before harvesting.”
- Ronan Sayburn MS, 67 Pall Mall, UK
“… Still youthful, it is mouthfilling …with intense, ripe, grapefruit-like flavours, a hint of marmalade, and a crisp, dryish, lasting finish.”
- Michael Cooper, Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide, NZ
19+/20
“… Multi-layers of interest have purity and concentration; bright acidity brings focus and tension. This is a concentrated dry Riesling …”
- Candice Chow, www.raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz, NZ
94/100
"… Delicious, dry, long. Another captivating Bel Canto from the PB team.”
- Cameron Douglas MS, camerondouglasms.com, NZ
17+/20
“…Fruit quickly gives way to a grippy, unfurling stony complexity. This is serious Riesling - it does one thing and it does it extremely well - tense, coiled power in the manner of the impressive German trockens.”
- Stephen Wong MW, Wine Sentience, NZ

Bel Canto Dry Riesling is one of New Zealand’s most powerful white wines with its recognisably maverick personality and incredible potential for aging in the long term I love this wine.

- Joelle Thomson, joellethomson.com, NZ

2017

19/20
“Bel Canto is one of New Zealand’s greatest Rieslings from the outstanding Pegasus Bay team in North Canterbury Drinks very nicely now and will reward time in the cellar.”
- Joelle Thompson, Drinksbiz magazine, NZ
96/100
“… Very complex. The palate is rich and full-flavoured, intense and expansive    It's quite Alsatian in style: powerful, concentrated and rewarding.“
- Huon Hooke, The Real Review, AUS
“… a very powerful, weighty wine, with concentrated, peachy flavours, hints of oranges and honey, good delicacy and a dry, lasting finish.
- Michael Cooper, www.michaelcooper.co.nz, NZ
95/100
“… As the wine opens up the complexity builds keeping pace with flavour concentration and texture. Delicious!
- Cameron Douglas MS, camerondouglasms.com, NZ
“… A very powerful, weighty wine, it is bright, light yellow/green, with concentrated, peachy flavours, hints of oranges and honey, good delicacy and a lasting finish.  It should be long-lived.”
- Winestate Magazine, AUS
93/100
Exotic …The palate has distinctive weight and richness with guava and apple pastry holding the finish.”
- Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com, USA
“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
“ ... A richly-textured Riesling with a lingering finish
- Bob Campbell MW, bobcampbell.nz, NZ

2015

92+/100
“… It's rich and full-bodied, with an opulent, velvety mouthfeel and luxurious flavours of bergamot and orange marmalade.”
Joe Czerwinski, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, USA
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/458/2022 Exp:16/3/2025