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.
The growing season was influenced by La Nina weather conditions, resulting in a very mild spring, a warm summer with high sunshine hours and a long, lingering autumn. In spite of being dry we had infrequent, but well spaced showers keeping the vines very happy. Late in the season, when the grapes were fully ripe, a small portion developed beautifully raisined noble botrytis, which is given the wine extra concentration, depth and flavour.
THE HARVEST AND WINEMAKING
The grapes were in perfect condition when they were picked during early May. They were gently pressed and the juice was then fermented slowly at cool temperatures to help the wine retain its vibrant fruit characters and varietal purity. At all stages, from fermentation to bottling, it was handled very carefully to help it retain a little of its natural carbon dioxide. This provides a little additional crispness and may result in a small amount of spritzig when first poured.
The wine has a pronunced lemon hue with aromas and flavours suggestive of peaches, nectarines, apricots and guavas. There are also hints of mandarin and orange marmalade, refelcting the wine’s extended maturarion time in bottle. It is concentrated and powerful in the mouth but has a spine of tingling acidity and minerality that sinuously weaves through the palate to give balance and elegance.
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