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 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 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.
AGED RELEASE PROGRAM
Our aged release program started back in 2006 when we set aside a few cases of our key varieties, Riesling & Pinot Noir, with the intention of releasing them in 2016, 10 years later. Stock has been set aside every vintage since. The inspiration for this came from the desire to offer our customers the opportunity to taste these wines in full maturity, something that is relatively rare these days. We consider this to be a particularly satisfying time to experience these wines with the added complexities of bottle age, while still offering years of good drinking ahead.
A mild spring was followed by a sunny summer and a lingering dry autumn. It was a perfect growing season with enough warmth to produce optimal ripeness, but it was not too hot to destroy varietal purity or freshness.
THE HARVEST AND WINEMAKING
Traditional Burgundian winemaking methods were used to make this wine. We picked the various blocks at different stages during April, depending on their maturity. Approximately one third of the grapes were put at the bottom of the fermentation vats as whole bunches, with the balance being destemmed on top, retaining as many whole berries as possible. The vats were kept cool over the next few days to help extract the soft, silky tannins from the pinot noir skins. After approximately a week the must started to ferment naturally. During fermentation the skins of the grapes were gently plunged twice daily. When the fermentation finished, the grape remnants were left to steep in the wine for up to a week to help extract a different range of tannins that add structure and depth. The exact duration of this period was determined by daily tasting. Subsequently the wine was gently pressed off and put into oak barriques (40% new) from selected artisan Burgundian coopers. In the summer after harvest, when the weather warmed, the wine underwent a natural malo-lactic (secondary) fermentation. After maturing for 18mths in these barriques, the batches made from the many different plots and clones of pinot were carefully blended in varying portions to produce the most complex and balanced wine possible.
Its colour is deep ruby shot with flecks of amber. The aromas and flavours evoke impressions of black cherries, purple plums, wild blackberries and mulberries. Extended time in bottle has also given the wine a pronounced savoury dimension suggestive of roast game, grilled mushrooms and black olive tapenade. There is a layer of velvety tannins that coat and refine its big body and taut muscular structure, helping to draw out its lingering aftertaste of chocolate mocha and spice.
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