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.
Unsettled weather over flowering resulted in a lighter than average set, meaning that no further fruit thinning was necessary. A classic North Canterbury summer then enabled this smaller crop to mature beautifully. Accelerated ripening allowed harvest to take place slightly earlier than usual, and favourable autumn weather ensured the grapes were picked in perfect condition.
THE HARVEST AND WINEMAKING
This is a unique expression of a traditional white Bordeaux blend using approximately 70% Sauvignon Blanc & 30% Semillon. Both varieties were picked in stages, timing each harvest to optimise the grapes’ range of natural flavours. These varieties were fermented separately, most of the Sauvignon in stainless steel to retain the pure fruit character (with approx. one third on skins) and all the Semillon in oak puncheons to add texture. A small percentage of the Sauvignon Blanc was also matured in new French barrels to give extra length and complexity. Both varieties were aged on their natural deposits of yeast lees (sur lie) for approximately 10 mths, prior to blending. Once bottled, the wine was left to age for another year before release, allowing it to integrate further.
On release the colour is pale lemon. The nose is powerfully expressive, charred citrus, crushed thyme, and baked apple melded with nettle, blossom, and a whiff of gun smoke. In the mouth it is richly textured, with refreshing acidity and a phenolic drive that adds structure, weight, and complexity. While the Semillon component fills out the palate and gives richness, the wine is vibrant and energised, it’s crisp minerality leading the way to a persistent finish.