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 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. 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.
Unsettled weather over flowering resulted in a lighter than average set, meaning that no further fruit thinning was necessary. A classic North Canterbury summer then enabled this smaller crop to mature beautifully. Accelerated ripening allowed harvest to take place slightly earlier than usual, and favourable autumn weather ensured the grapes were picked in perfect 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. 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.
On release the colour is lemon-straw. The bouquet is a zesty fusion of quince, citrus blossom, lemon meringue and green apple, cloaked in a spicy mineral underlay. In the mouth the experience is also multi-layered, displaying both richness and precision, texture and poise. Charming sweetness is backed by refreshing acidity and a hint of spritzig that creates a vibrant tension, ensuring the wine remains perfectly balanced with a fresh and lively finish.