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 warm summer and a lingering, dry autumn. Occasional well-spaced rain kept the vines happy. This enabled optimum ripeness to be obtained in the beautifully healthy fruit. Rain at the end of the season followed by drying nor’west winds, produced a nice proportion of nobly botrytic berries, which has given the wine extra concentration and depth.
THE HARVEST AND WINEMAKING
Our house style involves giving the grapes an extended “hang time” and picking (when possible) with a portion of noble botrytis, to enable our site to express itself harmoniously through this variety. Following harvest, the free run juice was fermented slowly at cool temperatures to help the wine express the unique characters of our region. At all stages, the wine was handled very carefully to help retain a little of its natural carbon dioxide. This has resulted in a small amount of spritzig, which adds extra liveliness to the wine.
It has an alluring bright golden hue. The bouquet and flavour suggest peaches, apricots, lychees, frangipani, honeysuckle and mandarin. There are also flecks of beeswax, lemon candy and kerosene, reflecting the wine’s extended maturation time in bottle. It is concentrated and mouth filling with a backbone of minerality and tangy acidity that complements its off-dry finish and draws out its length.
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