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 carved out of New Zealand’s Southern Alps by an ice-age glacier. 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.


Warm and settled weather during flowering led to a very large initial set. Fruit thinning was then undertaken to bring the crop back to the desired level. A perfect summer, followed by a warm dry autumn enabled the subsequent grapes to be harvested with excellent flavour development and physiological ripeness.


Virtuoso is part of our reserve series which we only make in exceptional years, provided it does not compromise the quality of our estate wines. It is a selection from the best barrels, coming from some of the oldest plantings in the vineyard. As with all our Chardonnay’s, we use traditional Burgundian winemaking methods. The fruit was hand-picked in stages during April and then gently pressed. The non-clarified juice was then put into large French oak barrels (puncheons), 30% of which were new in order to achieve optimal oak balance. In these it underwent primary fermentation by the grapes natural yeasts. The wine was then matured in the puncheons on its natural deposits of yeast lees (sur lie). In the summer after harvest it started to go through spontaneous secondary (malolactic) fermentation. It was regularly tasted during this time and the fermentation was stopped when the ideal balance was obtained. It had approx 12 months maturation prior to bottling.


The colour is deep lemon. On the nose there are aromas of citrus and stone fruit, together with a hint of struck match adding a refreshing and flinty minerality. Layered beneath there are also savoury notes of almond, toast and brioche. It has satisfying concentration, yet is balanced with a lively seam of acidity that helps prolong the finish. Despite its body, the wine remains tight and focussed, displaying an elegance and refinement typical of this vintage.

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
Download Reviews

Pegasus Bay

Are you over 18?

To enter this website you must be of legal drinking age.

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