Waipara Valley, Canterbury, NewZealand
A mild spring was followed by a sunny summer and a lingering dry autumn. This was warm enough to produce perfect ripening in both varieties but not too hot as to destroy the vibrant varietal character of sauvignon blanc.
The vines, which are almost 30 years old, were grown on a series of north facing gradually descending terraces in stony, free draining soil. We deliberately had a mixture of exposed and shaded fruit on the sauvignon blanc vines to ensure a wide spectrum of flavours. The semillon fruit, which naturally ripens later, was fully exposed to the sunlight.
THE HARVEST AND WINEMAKING
We picked the sauvignon in stages during April, timing each harvest to further optimise the grapes’ range of natural flavours. The semillon was harvested in May, by which time it had achieved optimal physiological ripeness. These varieties were fermented separately, the semillon in old French oak barrels to help develop the wine’s texture, without adding oak. Both varieties were then aged on their natural deposits of yeast lees (sur lie) for eight months to fill out the palate, the semillon portion remaining in barrels throughout this time.
Impressions of passionfruit, melon, greengage and gooseberry abound in the aroma and flavour. These are supported by savoury hints of roast capsicum and aubergine. It is rich and concentrated in the mouth but retains a tight-knit, refined structure with a zesty, dry, crisp finish. While ready to drink on release it should develop a range of additional fascinating nuances with careful cellaring.
The Donaldson family have been seriously involved in wine since the early 1970’s and were pioneers of the North Canterbury region.
Ivan Donaldson, who had a long career as an Associate Professor and Consultant Neurologist, as well as being a wine writer and wine judge, oversees viticulture and wine styles. His wife Christine established the breath-taking gardens at Pegasus Bay and directs most of her energy on maintaining the winery’s extensive grounds. She is also a lover of opera and the arts and has been heavily involved in the local Opera scene for many years. The Donaldson family have hosted many classical concerts at the winery’s natural amphitheatre and a reserve range of wines have been dedicated to Christine’s passion for opera.
Their eldest son, Matthew is winemaker and graduated with an oenology degree and a postgraduate diploma in viticulture at Roseworthy College in Australia. He has worked many vintages in other parts of the world, with a particular focus on Burgundy. 2017 marked Matthew’s 25th vintage at Pegasus Bay. Matthew’s wife Di helps with winery logistics.
Another son, Edward is Marketing Manager who spends much of his time trotting the globe and promoting his family’s wines to more than 25 countries where Pegasus Bay is distributed, his wife Belinda directs the winery’s multi award winning restaurant.
The youngest son Paul, who has an MBA, is the winery’s General Manager, while another son Michael is the local sales manager.
Pegasus Bay is an entirely family-owned and operated enterprise.