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 involved.
The vines are located within the Waipara Valley of North Canterbury, on free draining, north facing terraces. They benefit from being in the lee of the Teviotdale Range, giving maximum protection from the Pacific’s easterly breezes and thus creating a unique mesoclimate. Over 35 years old, a large proportion are still planted on their own roots. They are grown 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 site 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
Maestro is part of our reserve series and represents the very best of our Bordeaux fruit. As with all our reserves, this celebrated claret style wine is only made in exceptional years. After being picked in late April, the grapes began fermentation naturally in stainless steel tanks. During this process the juice was regularly drained and sprayed back over the cap of floating grape skins (rather than plunging), to ensure a perfect tannin balance was extracted from the fruit. The wine was then gently pressed off and put into French oak barriques (50% new). The following summer, when the weather warmed, it underwent a natural malo-lactic (secondary) fermentation. After maturing in oak for 2 years, a selection from the best barrels was carefully blended to produce the most balanced yet complex wine possible. The finished product is a blend of approximately 50% Merlot, 40% Malbec, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.
On release it has a deep inky hue. The nose uncoils in waves, a core of brambly dark berry fruit overhauled by a rush of tobacco, black olive tapenade, vanilla and smoked game, leaving ripples of cinnamon, peppermint and sage. The palate is broad shouldered and muscular, with assertive tannins balanced by a concentrated ripe mouthfeel and a long spicy finish. Dense, meaty, and generously structured, this powerful and full-bodied wine upholds its place as the heavyweight in our reds divisione.