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 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 over flowering provided a healthy fruit set, which was then thinned back to desired levels. The ensuing summer was dry with very little rain, resulting in perfectly ripened small berries full of intense flavour and concentration. Thankfully, our harvest was able to proceed during the C-19 lockdown, and an unbroken autumn full of warm days meant each variety was picked at its optimum maturity.
THE HARVEST AND WINEMAKING
ith its large diurnal range and long lingering autumns, North Canterbury is an ideal playground for riesling, making it possible to create concentrated wines that still possess favourable acidity and finesse. 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.
Upon release the colour is lemon-straw. The nose is an invigorating concoction of tropical, citrus and floral notes. Impressions of pineapple, passionfruit and mandarin lead the way, flanked by crunchy apple, apricot and lemon curd, with teases of honeysuckle and orange blossom. The mouthfeel is zesty and energised, displaying both richness and an elegant structure. A seam of refreshing acidity combined with a hint of spritzig compliment the wine’s body perfectly, leaving the imbiber to savour a lengthy and crisp, satisfying finish.