The Donaldson Family have been seriously involved in viticulture and winemaking for over 40 years. Founder Ivan Donaldson planted one of Canterbury’s first vineyards 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 involved.
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 35 years old, with a large proportion planted on their own roots. They are located on the “Glasnevin Gravels” where greywacke stones, silt and loam have been washed down from the mountains over the millennia. The soil is 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.
Cold weather during bud burst resulted in lower crop levels, hence no further fruit thinning was carried out. The subsequent warm dry summer served up perfectly ripened small berries full of intense flavour and concentration. Favourable conditions continued into autumn, allowing the grapes to be picked at their optimum ripeness.
The grapes were picked in separate batches during the first half of April, the aim being to produce a spectrum of ripe yet zesty aromas and flavours in the finished wine. After gentle pressing of the berries, the free run juice was fermented in stainless steel tanks at a cool temperature, to help the wine express its varietal purity. A selection of the fruit was fermented using whole bunch, and then matured on skins for 200 days, to give added complexity. A small portion of barrel aged Semillon has also been included in the finished wine, for extra richness and texture. Both varieties were aged on their natural deposits of yeast lees (sur lie) for approximately 10 months, prior to blending.
Upon release it has a subtle lemon hue. The bouquet is vibrant, an intoxicating assortment of tropical and citrus. Heady aromas of passionfruit and pineapple flirt temptingly against a backdrop of grapefruit, green apple, lemon peel and a hint of gunflint. The mouthfeel is textured yet precise, with a rousing whip of acidity and simmering phenolics that give the wine increased structure and length. A complex and serious Sauvignon Blanc, displaying intense varietal character, a multi- faceted palate, and a long salivating finish.
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