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. 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.
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
Harvest was deliberately delayed until the berries had developed an ideal amount of botrytis. After picking, the grapes were crushed and then left in contact with their skins. Following pressing, the cloudy juice was transferred into old oak puncheons, where it was left to ferment naturally. The wine was then matured for approximately 6 months in these barrels prior to bottling.
On release the wine is bright lemon in colour. The bouquet is a salvo of lychee, quince and sweet rose perfume, framed with hints of ginger, beeswax and fragrant spice. Due to the varietal intensity of Gewürz, some additional winemaking techniques have been employed to give the wine extra complexity. Skin contact and fermenting with solids provide increased structure and a subtle hint of struck match, while the oak aging and lees contact adds mouth feel. On the palate it is fleshy and succulent, with ripe phenolics and a whisp of bittersweet fruit kernel that complement the wine’s off-dry style, setting up for a long and satisfying finish.