Awarded Classic Status.
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 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.
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.
We use traditional Burgundian winemaking methods. The fruit was hand-picked in stages during April and then gently pressed (60-70% whole bunch). The non-clarified juice was then put into large French oak barrels (puncheons), 70% of which were old in order to limit pickup of oak flavour. In these it underwent primary fermentation by the grapes indigenous yeasts. The wine was then matured in the puncheons on its natural deposits of yeast lees (sur lie). In the summer after harvest it started to go through spontaneous secondary (malolactic) fermentation. It was regularly tasted during this time and the fermentation was stopped when the ideal balance was obtained. It had approx 12 months maturation prior to bottling.
The colour is deep lemon/straw. On the nose there are aromas of citrus, as well as honeydew melon and some stone fruit (peach/nectarine). In addition there is a hint of struck match which adds refreshing flinty minerality. There are also some underlying savoury notes (toast and brioche) as a result of the secondary fermentation and lees contact in the barrel. The palate reveals some intense fruit concentration, however there is a nice spine of acidity to ensure the wine remains tight and focussed, with a lingering finish.
Awarded Classic Status.
"Although wine maker Matthew Donaldson look as though he has just got in from an all night rave they are presently producing some of New Zealand’s most exhilarating, Burgundy inspired white wines...".
“… An absolute Southern icon chardonnay … generously layered … It’s beautifully balanced, and boasts slightly charred oak and waves of gumtingling textures that last and last. It’s outstanding. … “
“There’s no mistaking the power and intensity of this wine … Bold and proud bouquet … a decent acid line and persistent lengthy finish.”
“… fragrant, complex bouquet. Mouthfilling, it is concentrated, with vibrant, peachy, mealy flavours, oak complexity, fresh acidity and the structure to mature well. Full of personality …"
“Lots of flint and stone aromas with lemons and green apples. Medium-bodied with a tight and linear palate and a long, flavourful finish. Very intense.”
“… a smooth-textured chardonnay with white peach, lemon curd, grapefruit and spicy oak flavours. Appealing purity and power. A sophisticated and complex wine.”
“This is one of the South Island’s most powerful, full-bodied, dry and rewardingly complex Chardonnays … The flavours are elegant and focused with a lingering finish.”
“Superbly complex and inviting with ripe stone fruit, grapefruit, gun smoke … it's powerful and richly expressed on the palate offering outstanding depth and textured mouthfeel. Great presence with a prolonged gratifying finish.”
“ … This rich, multi-layered Chardonnay shows power and abundance of vivid fruit across a lengthy, sustained finish.”
“…The wines is creamy, dry, full-bodies and savoury with an incredibly refreshing taste of ripe, citrusy grapefruit and a lingering finish.”
“…This is not your shy and retiring Chardonnay … it’s a real mouthful … “
“Strapping yet delicate, richly flavoured yet subtle, this sophisticated North Canterbury wine is one of the country’s best Chardonnays … “
“Intense, richly textured … A generously-proportioned and complex chardonnay”.
“… a wonderfully weighted palate that offers outstanding depth and richness … gloriously satisfying” .
“… Masterfully, this speaks the language of Burgundy with all of its familiar inflections; flint, restraint, the phenolics of a delayed whole-bunch press … An intellectual rendition and very well done.”
“…Great intensity and concentration. Complex and rich; long finish with grapefruit citrus … “
“This powerful, North Canterbury wine has a definite ‘wow’ factor. … Full of personality, ... weighty but elegant palate, … lovely depth.”
“Impressive, vibrant and flinty …Great wine that is packed with interest”
“Superbly fruited and impressively lifted …. Seductively flinty complexity. … The palate is equally engaging with excellent weight and concentration … finishing extremely long and expansive”
“Bold, complex and flavoursome Chardonnay … A rich, weighty, textural wine that ‘feels’ as good as it tastes”
“ … the wine posses underlying power carrying the palate to a long finish. … a rich and luscious chardonnay …”
“... satisfylingly complex wine with a great texture and very lengthy finish. A bright high energy wine …”
“…Right out of the blocks …drinking superbly”
“...Quite complex … tasty and very moreish. Lengthy finish, balanced and well-made”
“...Excellent … a walk on the wild side …”
“Handy concentration and integration of some very complex traits … long smooth finish”
“Very complex, very concentrated and very good. This has a big hit of grapefruit and lemon citrus. Quite pithy and flinty. The palate has layers and layers of fruit, delivering flavors that follow in the stone fruit and citrus threads seen on the nose. Spicy oak warms up through the finish”
“ …. The bouquet is fragrant and youthful; the palate weighty … a very finely balanced, long, savoury finish. Already delicious ….”
“ … the palate is elegantly concentrated with an intense heart … The mouthfeel has fine textures guiding the fruit, and the acidity is refined and refreshingly crisp … to a long, lingering finish of stonefruits and nuts. This is an intense and complex flavoured Chardonnay” .
“It’s not often you find Chardonnay as good as this one,…a complex, dry and richly flavoursome white…super delicious…”
“Strapping yet delicate, richly flavoured yet subtle, this sophisticated North Canterbury wine is one of the country's best Chardonnays. …. Weighty, sweet-fruited and smooth, it has very generous, peachy, mealy, slightly buttery and spicy flavours, and a long, dry, savoury, seamless finish”
“ …. punchy and bold in expression. Full-bodied and with immense presence and power …. This is a very powerful, flavour-packed, complex-layered Chardonnay …”
“ … a rich, intense Chardonnay that has plenty of power …A wine that shows class"
“...Bold, powerful wine with a lingering finish.” .
“ This is an outstanding white wine, year on year; modelled on the great Burgundian whites … An exceptional South Island Chardonnay that says ‘drink me now’ but also clearly has the staying power to age and evolve beautifully …” .
“..complexity builds as the wine rests on the palate; specific use of oak adds texture and length.A great wine that teases the palate in all the right ways..”
“…The wine has a linear core following a fine, textural thread, unveiling layers of savoury stonefruit and nutty detail with subtle oak and minerally nuances as it carries to a long, softly refreshing finish. This is a complex-flavoured savoury, stonefruit and nutty Chardonnay with excellent vitality and fresh acidity . . .”.
This Chardonnay comes from North Canterbury’s best known winery, Pegasus Bay, whose reputation has been forged on making great whites – particularly full bodied Rieslings but also exceptional good Chardonnays, which can age well. This is due to the cool climate delivering grapes with vibrant acidity, which preserves these lovely fleshy whites.
One of the best NZ Chardonnays I’ve tasted this year. This youthful Chardonnay is taut and linear, focused and elegant. It gives attractive flinty sulphide-derived characters, as well as white stone fruit. New French oak adds a hazelnutty layer. High level of concentration in mouth suggests low yields, and combined with a long finish, this Chardonnay exudes quality.
“…Reticent, pure aromas of lemon peel, lime, minerals and white pepper. Densely packed and subtly complex, with citrus and nectarine flavors complemented by spicy oak and a captivating leesy quality that contributes texture as well as another flavor element. More Burgundy than New World in style in spite of its mid-palate sweetness….” .
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