The Vineyard and the Vines

The vines, which are 25 years old, grow on their own roots in well drained, stony soil on a series of north facing, gradually descending terraces. The site is warm during the day but cool at night, resulting in good ripening while retaining the berries natural acids. Our main variety of chardonnay, known locally as Mendoza, typically produces light crops of small berries and hence tends to make concentrated wines.


An exceptionally early budburst was brought about by a very mild spring. Warm summer days with cool nights and a balmy, dry autumn produced healthy, beautifully ripened fruit while retaining a wonderful balance and crispness.


Harvest and Wine Making

We use traditional Burgundian winemaking methods. After picking in mid-April, the fruit was gently pressed and the unclarified juice put into large French oak barrels (puncheons), only 30% of which were new. There it underwent spontaneous primary fermentation by the grapes’ own yeasts, without any attempt at temperature control. The wine then rested on this yeast deposit (sur lie). In the summer after harvest it started to go through natural secondary (malo-lactic) fermentation by its indigenous micro-organisms. It was regularly tasted during this time and the process stopped when ideal balance was achieved. After a total of 1 year in puncheons the wine was blended, which allowed it to further integrate prior to bottling, which was 20 months after harvest. Virtuoso is made from a small selection of barrels which are felt to best express the vintage and terroir.

The Wine

The bouquet and flavour evoke impressions of nectarines, white fleshed peaches, yellow plums and rock melon, coating a core of citrus fruits. These intermingle with hints of toasted hazelnuts, marzipan, breakfast cereal, liquorice and black olives. The wine is concentrated and powerful in the mouth but stays quite restrained and refined. The lingering aftertaste is drawn out by lively minerality and tangy crispness. While ready to drink on release, with careful cellaring it should become more complex and integrated over the next 5 or 6 years and last a decade or more.

Download Tasting Notes


“The New Zealand chardonnays were equally convincing, with the likes of Pegasus Bay delivering the richness of a Montrachet and unique freshness with its Chardonnay Waipara Valley Virtuoso 2019 … . Dense and very layered, yet fresh and vivid. So long and intense. Great finish.”
- James Suckling Wine Reviews,, USA
Easily one of the best Chardonnays you will find in New Zealand, the team at Pegasus Bay seemingly achieve supreme class almost effortlessly … A wine that encompasses so much detail and finesse … Bravo - just brilliant".
- Steve Leszcynski,, AUS
“ … A delicious wine, with weight and intensity, length and finesse".
- Cameron Douglas MS,, NZ

“… Mouthfilling, it is a very 'complete' wine, with deep, ripe stonefruit flavours, searching and savoury, and a seamless, enduring finish. Already delicious.”

- Michael Cooper,, NZ
“   hedonistic weighty structure of the bold … taste explosions on the lingering, succulent finish.  This is an outstanding chardonnay from a great winemaking team.”
- Joelle Thomson, Drinksbiz Magazine, NZ
"Vine age, low cropping vines, planted on their roots and winemaking techniques that are designed to build maximum flavour and complexity have produced this seriously delicious, age-worthy chardonnay …. It’s an intense and impressively textural flagship chardonnay ….”
- Bob Campbell MW, The Real Review, NZ
A gracefully opulent chardonnay concentrated palate delivers beautifully layered mouthfeel combined with creamy texture and bright acidity, finishing superbly long and expansive.”
- Sam Kim, Wine Orbit,, NZ
“… The wine is full-bodied with softness and elegance This Chardonnay is harmonious with a complex range of flavours, balance and strength.”
- Candice Chow,, NZ
“… It's a real mouthful of a Chardonnay with its mass of barrel- and solids-derived smoky/nutty characters … it expands in the mouth, giving a sense of power and richness … it expands in the mouth, giving a sense of power and richness … Patience will be rewarded, as there's a lot going on here.”
- Rebecca Gibb MW, Vinous, USA


“… It's medium to full-bodied but with extra levels of silkiness and length, with elegant citrus notes lingering for minutes" 
- Joe Czerwinski,, USA
Bold, complex and alluring bouquet Complex, youthful and rich … Full-bodies, lengthy and persistent finish.  Youthful with plenty of acidity and some wood tannins …" 
- Cameron Douglas MS,, NZ
“… There's great depth and drive here yet it feels unforced. … this is an excellent expression of the variety” 
- Steve Leszcynski,, AUS
“… excellent complexity, balanced acidity and a seamless finish.”
- Michael Cooper,, NZ
“… Golden and gorgeous in the glass … beautifully balanced … Chardonnay lovers – you need this”  
- Yvonne Lorkin,, NZ
“The 2016 Virtuoso Chardonnay, actually brought to mind a Meursault Village from Coche-Dury …very well balanced … intense finish that lingers in the mouth. Brilliant
- Neal Martin, Antonio Galloni, Vinous, USA

“This is impressively complex … leading to a sumptuous palate that is concentrated and weighty … terrific fruit power as well as engaging savoury nuances, finishing gloriously long and gratifying”

- Sam Kim, Wine Orbit,, NZ

“Intense, rich and weighty chardonnay … generously proportioned wine that’s deliciously drinkable …”

- Bob Campbell MW,, NZ

“ … very rich aromas ….”

- Nick Stock,, USA
“ … Toasty, dry, full-bodied … loads of weight and a lingering finish.  What more could you ask for in a top notch Chardonnay? …”
- Joelle Thomson, Drinksbiz magazine, NZ


"The top tier of chardonnay at Pegasus Bay is in great form ... The palate heads more in a stone fruit direction. Supple and fresh."
- Nick Stock,, USA
Complex, alluring and seductive bouquet … complex and textured …youthful and lengthy – a wine to contemplate the world we live in right now
- Cameron Douglas MS,, NZ



Ranked #1 of 15 2013 Chardonnay tasted from Waipara

“…Flagship chardonnay, … Lovely mouth-filling and very textural wine. An excellent example of this consistently top chardonnay” 
Bob Campbell MW,, NZ
“… This is a rich, multi-dimensional, complex Chardonnay with layers of flavour and a vibrant, powerful palate....” 
- Raymond Chan,, NZ
“ …. Power yet finesse here, nicely balanced …. A serious wine that will repay time in the cellar.” 
- Mark Henderson, Otago Daily Times, NZ
“ … Wonderfully lush and rich but at the same time energetic and firm , with its stone fruit flavours perfectly balanced by spices and flinty minerals; salty and rich in extract.…” 
- Steve Tanzer,, USA
“…A powerful, rich and full bouquet of stone fruit, oak and spice: baked peach and nectarine with white spiced oak, new oak and a distinctive savoury/leesy complexity - even a flint-like edge. On the palate - dry, firm, youthful and intense… full-bodied and rich. Great wine!” 
- Cameron Douglas MS,, NZ


The 2010 Virtuoso Chardonnay begins a bit subdued at this stage yet shows notes of apple tart, peach cobbler and ginger-honey, plus some cedar and citrus undertones. The full-bodied palate is solidly structured with tight-knit fruit supported by a vibrant acid line and a finish with great length. It should fan-out with a further year in bottle and drink it 2017+.
- Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, USA
“Plenty to like about the nose on this wine. Rich, juicy stone fruit characters of white peach and nectarine, with lighter citrus flavours following behind. Spicy and pure on the palate…”.
- Nick Stock,, USA
"A wonderful Waipara wine, just starting to break into full stride, with peach, nectarine and nut flavours,showing lovely depth and drinkability.“.
- Michael Cooper, The Listener, NZ
A wine of commanding presence, the complex bouquet shows peach, mango, grapefruit and nutty oak aromas with subtle flinty notes. It's undeniably powerful on the palate yet perfectly balanced and harmonious. This formidable chardonnay is multi-layered and sophisticated. 
- Sam Kim,, NZ


93+/100 Points
“The 2009 Virtuoso Chardonnay is a barrel selection wine, from older vines on their own rootstocks and naturally fermented/aged in French oak puncheons, 50% new. Crisp, concentrated and medium bodied in the mouth, it’s still young and taut but has a gorgeous satiny texture and a long finish.”
—Lisa Perrotti-Brown, MW, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, USA
96/100 Points
One of the great chardonnay labels, Pegasus Bay have delivered an exceptional wine from the 2009 vintage. It's gorgeously complex on the nose displaying stone fruit, oatmeal, cashew, vanilla and subtle savoury notes. The palate is superbly concentrated and focused with rich texture, finishing extremely long and expansive. Matured for three years before release - one year in barrel on lees, one in tank on light lees and one in bottle. Based on previous vintages of Virtuoso, this stunning beauty will develop graciously.”
—Sam Kim, Wine Orbit, NZ


“…Rich, tightly structured Waipara wine, from 24 year- old vines….crisp and minerally. A cool climate style with real verve and drive, still unfolding.”
—Michael Cooper, WineState, AUS


95/100 Points
“…Top wine of the tasting - A heavyweight chardonnay label in every respect. Very intense wine with a strong but appropriate oak influence that is balanced by powerful citrus and stone-fruit flavours. The wine has masses of sizzled butter, savoury yeast lees and roasted nut characters. Assertive acidity adds energy and ageing potential…”
—Bob Campbell MW, Gourmet Traveller Wine, AUS
“I tasted a bottle of ’06 Virtuoso the other day and I was pole-axed with carnal, vinous desire … this is one of the most riveting whites of the year and for 20 quid you will go absolutely nuts when you taste the lush, cool, layered fruit and the staggering minerality underpinning all of the action…you can put it up against any of your Burgundys and ask your friends for a vote. Do not bet against this Virtuoso.”
—Matthew Jukes, Money Week Magazine, UK


“From Waipara, this is a striking wine-rich, complex and shows excellent weight and a fine thread of acidity…”
—WineState, AUS
“…It is a powerful, seamless wine, minerally and complex”
—Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide 2009, NZ
93/100 Points
“The 2005 Virtuoso reminded me of a Corton-Charlemagne…it could still benefit from a few more months in bottle as the oak still needs time to meld into the structure of this outstanding wine”
—Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, USA
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Pegasus Bay

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Licence Holder:Donaldson Family Limited T/A:Pegasus Bay Winery.
Licence no:57/OFF/458/2022 Exp:16/3/2025