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.

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

With its large diurnal range and long lingering autumns, North Canterbury is an ideal playground for riesling, making it possible to create concentrated wines that still possess favourable acidity and finesse. Our house style involves giving the grapes an extended “hang time” and picking (when possible) with a portion of noble botrytis, to enable our site to express itself harmoniously through this variety. Due to this summer being one of the hottest on record however, the grapes achieved physiological ripeness a little earlier than usual and were picked in late March. Following harvest, the free run juice was fermented slowly at cool temperatures to help the wine express the unique characters of our region. At all stages, the wine was handled very carefully to help retain a little of its natural carbon dioxide. This has resulted in a small amount of spritzig, which adds extra liveliness to the wine.

THE WINE

On release the colour is lemon-straw. The bouquet is an alluring potpourri of zesty citrus and green apple, interwoven with spice, perfume, floral notes and a mineral core. The palate is rich and supple, with elegant poise and a textured mouthfeel. A refreshing whip of acidity adds length and ensures the wine’s off-dry finish is harmoniously balanced. There is a lovely freshness on the close that creates liveliness and a pleasing tension.

Download Tasting Notes


“A true New Zealand classic …”
- Stephen Wong MW, Wine Sentience, NZ
Awarded Super Classic Status "This is classy stuff."
- Michael Cooper's Buyer’s Guide, NZ
“Surely a classic in its own right”
- Michael Broadbent, Decanter, UK
“Canterbury with its sunshine and big diurnal shifts is the beating heart of NZ Riesling production with Pegasus Bay arguably the country's best-known producer for the grape.”
- Chris Losh, Imbibe Magazine, UK

2019

95/100
“ … Delicious, fleshy and long.”  
- Cameron Douglas MS, www.camdouglasms.com, NZ
19-/20

“ … vibrant and refreshing multilayered richness and precision

- Candice Chow, www.raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz, NZ
“ … delicious wine is full of youthful impactRich and vibrant, …”
- Michael Cooper, Listener Magazine, NZ

2018

94/100
“ … rich, luscious unctuous. A big, bold, beautiful statement wine.”
- New Zealand Wine Rater, Stephen Bennett MW & Lynnette Hudson, NZ
16.5/20
“ … a distinctive wine with notable persistence"
- Julia Harding, www.jancisrobinson.com, UK
95/100
Gorgeously ripe and inviting awesome concentration … Splendidly harmonious and filled with delectable flavours” 
- Sam Kim – Wine Writer, www.wineorbit.co.nz, NZ
94/100
“ … Restrained lusciousness with a lingering finish."
- Bob Campbell MW, The Real Review, AUS & NZ

2017

“ … Concentrated, with gentle sweetness … good acid spine”  
- Michael Cooper, www.michaelcooper.co.nz, NZ
94/100

“ … The palate has a very supple and succulent feel … Very complex texture. Superb.

- Nick Stock, www.jamessuckling.com, USA

2016

“ … crisp but not high acidity, …   A very harmonious wine, it’s delicious …”
- Winestate Magazine, AUS
93/100
“ … long, fluid build of concentrated citrus and stone fruit flavours.  Terrific depth
- Nick Stock, Jamessuckling.com, USA
18.5/20
"North Canterbury is one of the world’s great Riesling regions … To call this wine ‘iconic’ is to wildly understate the greatness of both the region and of the winemaker….”
- Drinksbiz magazine, Joelle Thomson, NZ
95/100
“...irresistibly delicious … sumptuous palate … excellent depth and intensitybalanced and harmonious
- Sam Kim, Wine Orbit, wineorbit.co.nz, NZ

2015

95/100
“… Rich, concentrated and flavoursome Riesling … Sweetness is balanced by fruity acidity and fine tannins. A powerful wine with character.”
- Bob Campbell MW, bobcampbell.nz, NZ
93/100
Off-dry and packed with richness, this has a wealth of ripe peach and mango fruits. The palate has bracing acidity that lifts really weighty …” 
- Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com, USA
16.5/20
Very nice balance for a Spätlese style of wine.  Real refreshment and vitality.  Nice savoury undertow.  Racy and with good length.”
- Jancis Robinson MW, jancisrobinson.com, UK
94/100
“ Very aromatic bouquet … very fresh, lively - dancing on the palate …”
- Cameron Douglas MS, camerondouglasms.blogspot.co.nz, NZ
18.5/20
“ … The wine carries smoothly to an elegant, long lingering finish. … elegantly rich and luscious medium Riesling … a fine-textured, refreshing palate. …” 
- Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz, NZ

2014

18.5/20
“…is a soft, rich, medium Riesling with exotic flavours of limes, honey and musk."
- Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz, NZ
93/100
A richly-textured wine with benchmark varietal flavours.”
- Bob Campbell MW, bobcampbell.nz, NZ 
92/100
“ … beguiling core of intensity and complexity … A delicious example of Riesling … ” 
- Cameron Douglas MS, camerondouglasms.blogspot.co.nz, NZ

2013

92/100
This distinctive style of Riesling is jam-packed with honey, tree fruit/apricot and orange marmalade flavours (among many others). . . .
- Bob Campbell MW, bobcampbellwinereviews.com
Top wine of tasting - “. . . an absolutely outstanding wine with intense concentration of colour, aroma, flavour, body and acidity; The finish is very long finish and this wine shows an exceptional response to the climate that it comes from. . . serious and very complex….This wine was my favourite for its great balance and intense fresh flavours.
- Vino - joellethomson.co.nz
18.5/20
“… This has much more to unfold…. the palate features soft, ripe, up-front citrus fruit and honied flavours along with nuances of exotic yellow florals. The mouthfeel is smooth-flowing with a fine phenolic line and discreet, lacy acidity guiding the palate….This is a soft, rich and gently succulent medium Riesling with citrus and honied flavours and toasty detail.”
- Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz

2012

19/20
“…This has developed some secondary nuance and is quite complete in expression. Medium in sweetness and medium-bodied, the palate is rich and harmoniously melded with concentrated flavours of yellow florals, citrus fruits and honey, along with subtle toasty nuances. The flavours are mouthfilling with a degree of opulence, but the wine is vibrant and lively with underlying, thirst-quenching acidity. The wine has concentration and follows a very fine line leading to a very long and sustained honied finish. This is a rich and harmonious medium Riesling with complex nuances, underlying vitality and a complete mouthfeel. . . ."
- Raymond Chan, raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz
Bright, light lemon/green, with lovely poise and concentration. Showing real depth through the palate, it is peachy, slightly limey, and honeyed, with gentle sweetness, good acid spine, and a touch of bottle-aged complexity. Drink now or cellar.
- Michael Cooper’s Buyers Guide, 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