“Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Semillon is one of my favourite New Zealand Wines”
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. 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.
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.
This is a unique expression of a traditional white Bordeaux blend using approximately 70% Sauvignon Blanc & 30% Semillon. Both varieties were picked in stages, timing each harvest to optimise the grapes’ range of natural flavours. These varieties were fermented separately, most of the Sauvignon in stainless steel to retain the pure fruit character (with approx. one third on skins) and all the Semillon in oak puncheons to add texture. A small percentage of the Sauvignon Blanc was also matured in new French barrels to give extra length and complexity. Both varieties were aged on their natural deposits of yeast lees (sur lie) for approximately 10 mths, prior to blending. Once bottled, the wine was left to age for another year before release, allowing it to integrate further.
It is pale lemon in colour, with intriguing aromas of passionfruit, melon, orange peel and citrus blossom, coupled with a flinty minerality. There is also a hint of struck match complexity arising from the cloudy, unclarified, natural juice that was used in the fermentation. The Semillon component helps fill out the palate, adding fruit weight, richness, and age-ability, while also acting to restrain the exuberance of the Sauvignon Blanc. Lees contact has added texture and body, yet the wine remains focussed, with a crisp refreshing acidity that emphasises its mineral notes.
“Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Semillon is one of my favourite New Zealand Wines”
“Wonderfully complex and engaging … It's richly textured with firm acidity, making it structured and immensely long on the finish”.
“ … Harmonious and complete … dynamic citrus and stone fruit flavours. Delicious, balanced and well made.”.
“ … young but likely to gain in complexity thanks to the balance that is already obvious. Crisp but deep”.
“This is a new vintage of one of the country’s best dry whites from North canterbury’s Pegasus Bay Winery … Drinks deliciously well now and can age for at least a decade …”.
“ … This is always a consistent wine and it ages very well - easily a decade, often more …”.
“The distinctive North Canterbury wine has loads of personality…”
“Totally captivating bouquet … A totally delicious wine - I wish more people could discover this fantastic example.” .
“… Gorgeously complex and engaging … concentrated palate that's vibrant and richly textured at the same time … opulent and powerful … mouth-watering.”.
“ a very complex and zesty style … a rich, powerfully concentrated frame. … ”
“ … The distinctive North Canterbury wine has loads of personality … and a tightly structured, lasting finish."
“ … the palate is well balanced and quite precise and detailed, presenting a fine bead of acidity … Excellent”
“ … The nose is firmly concentrated and beautifully proportioned with elegant, but intensely concentrated aromas …. Elegant, vibrant, finely concentrated ….”
“Concentrated and quite funky wine, with weight and texture ..."
“A very concentrated full-tilt take on the Style . A wealth of ripe lemon, cool herbs and bright tropical fruit accents as well as papaya on the palate. Flesh and acidity are well matched”.
“An absolute classic, none of our judges were surprised….. absolutely set the bar for this exotic and exciting style over the decades. …Gorgeous stuff.”
“This is one of the South Island’s most complex and interesting white wines ….. richly textural white, modelled on the best Bordeaux whites and putting Canterbury’s finest”
“… intensely scented … medium to full-bodied with a decadent oiliness to the texture, it fills the palate … finishing with great persistence …”
“ One of my favourite New Zealand wines and one that I buy extremely regularly and love even more every time I open it – again, it’s all about savoury flavours … complex creamy notes … fresh and zesty”
“…Really leaves the taste buds quivering … A rather uncompromising, idiosyncratic Sauvignon-Semillon blend in the style of a white Bordeaux.”
“… This is a moderately rich, concentrated and harmoniously presented Sauvignon/Semillon blend with subtle complexities and a soft, dry finish. ….”
“ … concentrated and complex, with loads of personality … A very distinctive wine”
"This wine has excellent fruit freshness, complexity balance and length. Oatmeal, stone fruit and tropical fruits with complexity. In the mouth a complex cascading quince citrus and finishing lychee awash in tropical zesty acidity with fresh ripe citrus, passionfruit, guava, lemon and pink grapefruits all offering flavours to drive exceptional length and complexity.”
”The fruit richness is balanced and cut by crisp acidity, and the palate is elegant in proportion with a fine phenolic line smoothly carrying the wine. As the wine flows, the palate tends to dryness and the flavours lead to a long, lingering finish. This is an elegantly concentrated Sauvignon/Semillon blend with fresh, fruit and a fine linearity and dry mouthfeel. …”
This is a seriously powerful white wine and clearly semillon is an excelsior in the blend; wonderfully decedent and invigorating, drinking well now but you can sense with its unbridled power and cut it will cellar for 10 years or more.
A serious and muscular Sauvignon dominant blend with ripe green fruits and a complex smoky, flinty element.
Pale straw-tinged yellow. Complex, bracing aromas of gooseberry, white pepper, ginger, quinine, crushed stone and dusty herbs, plus a hint of lanolin. Broad, spicy and quite dry, with firm acidity giving excellent cut to the subtle flavors of citrus fruits and floral oils; more concentrated than the overwhelming majority of New Zealand's sauvignon-based wines. The long finish features a bitter-edged grapefruit note that calls for a year or two of patience.
The flavours lead to a very long, lingering, tightly bound finish. This is a very elegant, concentrated Sauvignon Blanc based wine with very fine textures and complex flavours.
This is one of the country’s best sauvignon blancs, but not as you normally know it. A little Semillon in this blend goes a long way towards creating a rainbow of flavours…The result is complex, fascinating flavours with richness, depth and length to burn.
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