The Season

A mild spring was followed by extremely hot weather over the early and middle part of summer. Initially we thought the season might be too hot for pinot noir but the latter part of summer was quite cool, bringing things back into balance. The autumn was dry, lingering and warm. Overall, this pattern resulted in early development and maturation of the grapes but fortunately drew out the crucial ripening period, promoting a full spectrum of ripe varietal pinot flavours and tannins with good levels of natural acidity.

The Vineyard and the Vines

Our Pinot Noir is made in small batches and in top years we select those with distinctive varietal character and typicity to make this wine, particularly emphasising balance and longevity. Typically, these batches come from our oldest blocks of vines, the majority of which are on their own roots.

Harvest and Winemaking

This wine was made utilising the century old techniques used to make red Burgundy. The fruit was carefully hand selected after harvest so that only the best grapes were used. These were then put into small vats, retaining as many whole berries as we could. The fruit was kept cool for several days before a natural fermentation commenced through the action of the pinot’s indigenous yeasts. The floating cap of skins was then regularly, but gently plunged by hand to keep it moist, while avoiding excessive extraction. After the fermentation finished, the new wine was kept in contact with the remnants of the grapes for a period, the optimal duration for each vat being determined by daily tasting. The wine was then put into oak barriques made by French artisan coopers, (50% new) and allowed to mature there for 18 months. In the spring after the harvest, when the weather in the cellar warmed, the wine underwent natural malo-lactic fermentation by the action of its indigenous micro-organisms.

The Wine

The wine has the rich carmine hue, shot with hints of ruby. It shows a mixture of plump, dark fruits, such as black cherries, purple peaches and plums, mixed with vibrant red fruits such as raspberries, mulberries and the like. Behind these is a complex array of savoury characters, giving impressions of roast meat, grilled mushrooms, wood smoke and foie gras. The wine persists and expands in the mouth so that it fans out, lingering on the palate. A spine of taut acidity keeps it tight knit and focussed.

Although ready to drink on release, with careful cellaring it should continue to develop additional layers of complexity for 6-10 years after harvest and live beyond.

Download Tasting Notes


2017

97/100
““… Full body with lively acidity … Bright and crunchy with a fleshy texture. Balanced and layered with a long, precise finish." 
- Nick Stock, www.jamessuckling.com, USA
94/100
The 2017 Prima Donna Pinot Noir epitomizes what this bottling is all about: finesse, silkiness and harmony ...." 
- Joe Czerwinski, www.robertparker.com, USA
“… A powerful, weighty red, it is notaby concentrated, … rich and complex, and finely balanced tannins. Still very youthful, it should be long-lived
- Michael Cooper, Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide, NZ

2016

97/100
“… Immensely complex It’s impressively concentrated and persistent classically structured and refined”.
- Sam Kim, Wine Orbit, www.wineorbit.co.nz, NZ
18/20
Elegant yet powerful … All the components are there for a long life ahead but it is - surprisingly - already approachable …”
- Stephen Wong MW
18/20

   Immediately varietal … Youthful, complex, layered. … “

- Cameron Douglas MS, camerondouglasms.com, NZ
19/20
“   quality and style tend to be extremely consistent; earthy flavours combined with freshness, power and elegance.”  
- Joelle Thomson, www.joellethomson.com, NZ
95/100
“… Dense, silken-textured wine … complex and appealing red”
- Bob Campbell MW. www.bobcampbell.nz, NZ
19/20

“   The flavours are with depth and concentration. … integrated with harmony, complex and powerful yet gentle and elegant …”

- Candice Chow, www.raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz, NZ
96/100
A very impressive pinot for the complexity and richness it offers … a very intense and plush feel with plenty of dark cherries and plums, wrapped in smooth and polished tannin”
- Nick Stock, www.jamessuckling.com, USA
“ …. vibrant cherry, plum and spice… mouthfilling … concentrated, savoury and supple, that build to a powerful finish.”
- Michael Cooper, www.michaelcooper.co.nz, NZ
94/100
Take a bow. An excellent Pinot Noir … dripping in elegance … generous … supple and silky smooth … One to savour
- Steve Leszczynski, Qwine, www.qwinereviews.com

2015

94/100
“ …concentrated yet elegant pinot noir, … Compelling
- Gary Walsh, The Winefront, AUS
97/100
This is stunningly beautiful; ..complex bouquet … sumptuous on the palate with rich texture and flowing mouthfeel, offering awesome power and well as elegance …”
- Sam Kim, Wine Orbit, wineorbit.co.nz, NZ
96/100
“ … rich, concentrated and quite savoury pinot noir, … very complex wine.  Firmly structured but accessible …”
- Bob Campbell MW, bobcampbell.nz, NZ
96/100
Grand, majestic and complex pinot noir that has an expansive, entrancing style … deep flavoursome … expansive rising finish.  Superb! …”
- Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com, USA
96/100
“ … Complex … Fine velvet tannins supported by acidity a vibrato of textures, quite a lengthy complex finish"
- Cameron Douglas MS, camerondouglasms.com, NZ

2013

96/100
The refinement and brilliance of the fruit on offer here really sets this wine apart from the regular Pegasus Bay pinot noir. Deliciously rich dark cherry aromas and flavors are presented amid silky, refined and long-form tannins. A great wine, in every respect.
- Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com, USA
"Prima Donna Pinot Noir is an elite barrel selection and in 2013 it is one of the greatest wines I have ever seen from this country. ….”
- Matthew Dukes, UK
92/100
“ …. Deep, plush, rather powerful Pinot Noir with rich, ripe tannins and excellent length. 
- Steve Tanzer, internationalwinecellar.com, USA
91/100
” …. mouth-filling red berry flavours supported by finely grained tannins and plenty of freshness, finishing long and earthy.
- Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, eRobertParker.com, USA

2012

Rated one of the best Pinot Noirs in the world (outside of Burgundy)
- Decanter magazine, UK

97/100
“…immense purity and is terrifically crunchy. There are red cherries at the core, dark spices, earth and fine chocolate at the edge. It's very long and direct. Will age magnificently”
- Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com, USA

96/100
….rich and complex wine with impressive weight and intensity….Powerful wine with obvious cellaring potential”.
- Bob Campbell MW, NZ

2011

97/100
Pegasus Bay’s winemaking team uses traditional Burgundian methods, including small vat fermentation and ageing the wine in French oak barriques for 18 months. Made “in small quantities in the best vintages from the oldest vines”, this flagship pinot noir is a powerful combination of intense plum, cherry and berry flavours with haunting floral notes, Oriental spices and an intriguing savoury, forest floor, rustic character. A delicious pinot with ageing potential.
- Bob Campbell MW, Gourmet Traveller Wine, AUS
96/100
A composed, svelte and powerful pinot with terrific focus and a real sense of freshness. The complexity has been cleverly engineered into place and is all spicy, brambly and foresty. The palate has sheets of tannin tilted upright, is very linear, focused and composed, long and uncompromising, yet smooth and polished. A class act.
- Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com, USA
93/100
“… opens to reveal complex scents of raspberry, cola, musky spices and flowers. Sappy and fresh, with terrific depth and intensity to the lightly saline flavors of raspberry, bitter cherry and spices. This very firmly built wine finishes with a youthfully bitter quality and solid tannic spine for aging. Give it a double decanting if you plan to broach a bottle any time soon--or, better yet, cellar it for five years….”
- Steve Tanzer, internationalwinecellar.com, USA

2010

93+/100
“Medium-bodied, the palate is led by a solid structure of medium to firm grainy tannins and crisp acid supporting the muscular red berry and savoury flesh, finishing long.”
- Lisa Perrotti Brown MW, robertparker.com, USA
93+/100
'Top Wine of NZ tasting (100's tasted)' “…downright Chambolle-like. Sweet and densely packed but youthfully tight, with impressive inner-mouth energy giving the intense red berry and mineral flavours terrific penetration. The superb rising finish saturates the palate with mineral-driven fruit. This is painfully backward today and may yet merit an even higher score with a few years in bottle.”
- Steve Tanzer, internationalwinecellar.com, USA
94/100
This is crazy pure with strawberry, flowers, raspberries and licorice. Full and very dense with fabulous tannins and length. Chewy yet polished. Drink or hold.”
- James Suckling, USA
“... should flourish for a decade. Deep and youthful in colour, it is powerful and finely fragrant, with dense cherry, plum and slight liquorice flavours, deliciously rich and well-rounded.
- Michael Cooper, Buyers Guide 2013, NZ
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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/458/2019 Exp:16/03/2022