The Donaldson Family have been seriously involved in viticulture and winemaking for over 40 years. Founder Ivan Donaldson planted one of Canterbury’s first vineyards 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 ripeness.
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. They were fermented separately, most of the Sauvignon Blanc in stainless steel to retain the pure fruit character and all the Semillon in oak puncheons to add texture. Approximately half the Sauvignon was fermented using whole bunch and then matured on skins for 200 days, to give added complexity. Both varieties were aged on their natural deposits of yeast lees (sur lie) for approximately 10 months, 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. Tropical aromas commence the fanfare, a salvo of guava, pineapple and melon leading the way. Layered beneath are nuances of grapefruit, honeysuckle, crushed herbs, and a wisp of struck match. The palate is richly textured, backed by crisp acidity and a simmering phenolic drive that delivers outstanding weight and structure. A prolonged and sophisticated finish completes the union, adding further complexity and length.