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 now 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 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.
Settled weather over flowering provided a healthy fruit set, which was then thinned back to desired levels. The ensuing summer was dry with very little rain, resulting in perfectly ripened small berries full of intense flavour and concentration. Thankfully, our harvest was able to proceed during the C-19 lockdown, and an unbroken autumn full of warm days meant the fruit was picked at its optimum ripeness.
THE HARVEST AND WINEMAKING
Made using traditional Bordeaux methods, the grapes were picked in April and then left to ferment naturally. The wine was then gently pressed off and put into French oak barriques, where it was aged for 18 months. The following summer, when the weather warmed, it underwent a natural malo-lactic (secondary) fermentation.
On release it has a dense inky hue. Rising to greet the nose is a captivating plethora of fragrances, dark cherry, smoky tomato, and Jalapeño, giving way to savoury impressions of cinnamon, leather, and dried oregano. A whisp of wet river gravel completes the allure. The mouthfeel is concentrated and impressively structured, with assertive tannins balanced by seductive fruit weight and invigorating acidity. The season’s perfect conditions have delivered a statement wine that is succulent, complex, and robust, with a long spicy tail.