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 and two spouses involved, managing various aspects.
THE VINEYARD AND THE VINES
The vineyard is located within the Waipara Valley of North Canterbury, on free draining, north
facing terraces carved out of New Zealand’s Southern Alps by an ice-age glacier. 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. The soil is free draining and 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 during December provided optimal conditions for flowering. A
very hot summer then enabled the grapes to ripen beautifully. Free draining
stony soil helped mitigate the effects of some late summer rain, and the ensuing
dry autumn meant the fruit was able to be picked in excellent condition.
HARVEST AND WINE MAKING
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.
It is pale lemon in colour, with intriguing aromas of passionfruit, melon, orange peel
and citrus blossom, coupled with a flinty minerality. There is also a hint of struck
match complexity arising from the cloudy, unclarified, natural juice that was used
in the fermentation. The Semillon component helps fill out the palate, adding fruit
weight, richness, and age-ability, while also acting to restrain the exuberance of the
Sauvignon Blanc. Lees contact has added texture and body, yet the wine remains
focussed, with a crisp refreshing acidity that emphasises its mineral notes.
HARVEST DATE AVE. BRIX AT
HARVEST ALCOHOL CONTENT R.S T.A. AGING POTENTIAL
24 13.5% Dry 7.3 g/l 7+ yr