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 one spouse 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.
Settled weather during December provided optimal conditions for flowering. A very hot summer then enabled the grapes to ripen beautifully. Free draining stony soil helped mitigate the effects of some late summer rain, and the ensuing dry autumn meant the fruit was able to be picked in excellent condition.
THE HARVEST AND WINEMAKING
We use the traditional French variety of Muscat (Muscat à petit grain). There are very few rows in our vineyard, so only a small volume of this wine has been made. After picking, the grapes were gently pressed, with only the free run juice being used. The wine was tank fermented to preserve varietal integrity, and slowly matured over four months, until a perfect balance was achieved.
The colour is medium straw. Its bouquet is invitingly perfumed and fragrant, full of musk, nutmeg, Turkish delight and lychee, laced with honeysuckle, lime zest and a smoky nuance. Unctuous and mouth-filling, the palate is rich and luscious. Balanced with integrated acidity and ripe phenolics, the finish is long and spicy with a hint of root ginger, perfectly complimenting the wine’s off-dry style.