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General Blog




Pegasus Bay 2018 Mail Order Tasting


06-Dec-2018
It is a sign of the work ethic of the Donaldson family of Pegasus Bay conduct their mail order tastings, especially considering their success in the marketplace. The family appreciate their loyal clientele throughout the country, some of whom have been purchasing the wines from the very early days, and the mail order tastings are an opportunity for the Donaldsons and their customers to meet in person – over a glass (or several) of top wine. Edward and Belinda Donaldson were at the QT ‘Museum’ Hotel to host their annual mail order tasting in Wellington, Edward mentioning that Pegasus Bay has been conducting these mail order tastings for 25 years! The Pegasus Bay vines, planted in 1985 are now 33 y.o. Edward noted that there were eight family members involved in the business: founders Ivan and Chris, the four sons and two of their partners/spouses. Edward and Belinda had their sons Denver and Castro assisting with the logistics. Pegasus Bay is now a third generational wine business, something that’s quite rare in New Zealand. www.pegasusbay.com

Denver, Belinda and Castro Donaldson - Pegasus Bay

Sue and I attended the tasting, and I made notes on the wines that were on show. The situation was busy, with many people to talk to, so the notes are in reality impressions. I have given the wine ‘provisional’ scores, so the notes and ratings have NOT been added to my database. However, I hope they convey the style and quality of what I tasted.

White Wines
Edward Donaldson orders the wines generally from whites to reds and finishing with the sweet wines, but the diversity makes it lightly subjective as far as an ideal goes. My notes are in the order as set out by Edward.

First up was the Pegasus Bay Sauvignon/Semillon 2016. I’ve just reviewed this (click here to see), and it was consistent. Still firm and tight with excellent concentration of stonefruits and gooseberries, rich with subtle oak and lees complexities, and good acid brightness. I think I’d rate it higher if it was a tad more zesty? (18.5+/20) RRP $32.00. Next was a new label for the family - ‘Vergence’, which could vary every release. It allows winemaker Mat and his team trial varieties and techniques not normally seen in the Pegasus Bay range normally. The Pegasus Bay ‘Vergence’ White 2016 is based on Semillon with a melange of aromatic white varieties, aged 2 ½ years in oak. This is firm and taut still with stonefruits and herbs, a little reduction to meld into the wine, but with freshness and lively acidity. It will be interesting to see this develop. (17.5+/20) RRP $27.00.

The Pegasus Bay Chardonnay 2016 is already complex with white stonefruit aromas and flavours with gunflinty minerally reduction. This is well matched by the intensity of the fruit and balanced oak nuttiness. This is bright and vibrant with excellent acidity and fine textures. (19.0-/20) RRP $42.00. This was my first sighting of the Pegasus Bay ‘Virtuoso’ Chardonnay 2015, a pale and youthful wine in appearance, showing finesse but intensity of fragrant white stonefruits, with refined nutty oak, a little toastiness, the flavours penetrating, but tight, and a touch of phenolic textures on the finish. (19.0+/20) RRP $55.00.

Red Wines
Pinot Noir is ‘king’ in Canterbury, and showing why was the Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2015. Light ruby-red with a touch of garnet, this was full of rich red fruits, with excellent ripeness, integrated with complexing dark herbs, a touch of whole bunch. Luscious and succulent, the tannins were very fine and the mouthfeel bright and lively. Very classical and ageworthy. (19.0/20) RRP $51.00. From 1.5 L magnum was the Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2013, lighter coloured with some more garnet hues, this is now becoming beautifully harmonious and complex layered with lovely secondary dried herb development. Ethereal florals, red fruits and finesse in its expression with fine–grained textures. No hurry here, other 5+ years easily. (19.0+/20) RRP $120.00. Slotted among the Pinot Noir selection was the Pegasus Bay ‘Vergence’ Red 2017, a 100% Bannockburn Pinot Noir with 100% whole bunch. Dark coloured, with a firm and forceful nose, the aromatics and flavours spoke of the complex stalk perfume, with dark herbs, but slowly releasing the black cherry and berry fruits with a hint of savouriness. Plenty of firmness and structure here, but not course in anyway. A ‘meditation’ wine, maybe, or with rich herb-marinated dishes. (17.5/20) RRP $40.00. Then back to reality with the Pegasus Bay ‘Prima Donna’ Pinot Noir 2013, with a garnet-red colour, complex aromas of dark-red berry fruits with dark herbs, whole bunch notes and fine, nutty oak. This has real depth and intensity, the mouthfeel with remarkable vitality, and refined extraction. (19.5-/20) RRP $95.00.

Though in the South Island, Waipara has a climate that suits the growing of Bordeaux red varieties at Pegasus Bay. The Pegasus Bay Merlot/Cabernet 2016 is dark ruby-red in colour and has integrated aromas of dark plums and blackberries, with just a touch of herbs and leaf. Rich, quite succulent, complete and balanced with luscious fruit, the palate has supple tannins that enable accessibility. (18.5/20) RRP $32.50. I wrote down next the Pegasus Bay Merlot/Cabernet 2013 1.5 L Magnum next. The wine was dark garnet-red in colour, wine fine, but firm aromatics showing the curranty Cabernet Sauvignon over the plummy Merlot here, along with associated cassis and herbs. Again, vibrant, and lively, with the fruit sweetness benefiting from the vitality. The componentry was in greater balance on palate than nose. (18.0/20) RRP $80.00. Last in this red bracket was the Pegasus Bay ‘Maestro’ Merlot/Cabernet/Malbec 2015, still youthfully dark, with very fine, ripe, black-berried fruit aromas and a touch of complexing ‘iron-earth’, unveiling some cassis, dark herbs and spice. This has a lovely fruit richness, but matched by considerable structure and with real underlying power, but the fruit is the hero, leading to a sustained finish. (19.0-/20) RRP $50.00

Riesling, Aromatic Whites and Sweet Wines
For many Pegasus Bay aficionados, these wines are the calling card. Introducing the flight was the Pegasus Bay Bel Canto’ Dry Riesling 2015, pale and youthful in appearance, but with finely concentrated, deep and densely packed lime and honied aromas and flavours. Bright and lifted, opening up easily with fruit richness, yellow florals and a hint of marmalade, with crisp acid cut, and a touch of fruit-extract texture. This will age well. (19.0-/20) RRP $35.00. This was followed by the Pegasus Bay ‘Bel Canto’ Dry Riesling 2014 in 1.5 L Magnum. Pale golden-yellow in colour, this is finely concentrated with penetrating bouquet of lime fruit with honied notes and a layering of musky botrytis, On palate remarkably vibrant, the acidity of the vintage coming into its own providing real palate piquancy to complement the fruit richness. Very fine phenolics and real length here. (19.0+/20) RRP $90.00. Then onto a pair of ‘regular’ Rieslings with a touch more sweetness. The current release Pegasus Bay Riesling 2015, pale in appearance, the nose is soft and rounded in presentation with a finely concentrated core of lime fruit, a little honey and toasty complexity. Rich and plush on palate, still taut at the heart, and finely balanced with all the acidity there. (18.5+/20) RRP $30.00. Then the new release Pegasus Bay ‘Aged Release’ Riesling 2008, the second release from a programme keeping the wines held back for a decade. Light golden colour, this is wonderfully integrated and harmonious, with an amalgam of lime fruit, honey and toast, a touch of complexing kero. Deliciously luscious on palate, with true secondary complexities, and surprising power. This will not fade away in the near future. (19.0-/20) RRP $40.00.

Then onto the first of the sweet whites, the Pegasus Bay ‘Aria’ Late Picked Riesling 2014. Light golden-yellow colour, the aromatics are softly full and voluminous with lime fruit overlaid by the musky botrytis, revealing marmalade and honey. The aromatics and flavours have depth and density, but the opulence and lusciousness remain the feature, the fruit and botrytis in balance and beauty, all underline by a fine phenolic threaded textural line and subtle acidity. A difficult and wet vintage, some of the 2014s are really shining as this is. (19.0+/20) RRP $39.00. Next was the even more rich Pegasus Bay ‘Encore’ Noble Riesling 2016 in 375 ml bottle. Light golden-yellow colour, this is fulsome and densely packed with soft and harmoniously presented aromas of honey and nectar, more classical marmalade and hints of crystallised fruits than musk. Plush and opulent, with unctuousness on palate, very smooth and seamless flowing with very fine acid freshness. Not ‘over-the-top’ in any way, this is looking superb tonight. (19.5/20) RRP $40.00.

Then came a strange-to-me break in the order with a return to a medium-dry/medium wine – the Pegasus Bay Gewurztraminer 2016, straw-yellow with a little gold. This is taut, slightly austere after the sweet wines, with rose-petal florals and Turkish Delight, showing good depth. A lighter palate depth, after the sweet wines, spices and ginger emerge to complex the florals, a little phenolic bitterness and some grip. I’m sure this would have looked better in the first flight with the other whites? (18.0/20) RRP $30.00. This was followed by the rare Pegasus Bay Muscat 2016. Bright, pale yellow colour, this is taut and firm at the core with fresh grape notes, some herb and floral notes, very clean and pure, and showing a fine-textured guiding line. Very good length. (18.0/20) RRP $30.00.

And of course, one must finish the tasting with the Pegasus Bay ‘Finale’ Noble Sauvignon Blanc 2014 in 375 ml. Bright golden yellow, this is packed with tropical fruits, crystallised fruits, caramel and toffee with barley sugar notes. Very, very sweet, the flavours are very decadent and opulent with tropical fruits, honey, a little lime marmalade making an appearance, along with the caramel. Lovely lusciousness, but also with acid cut, the alcohol not intruding. I remember reviewing this at the start of the year when the volatile acidity was marked. Here it has integrated or dissipated and the wine is gorgeous. (19.5-/20) RRP $40.00.

Edward Donaldson - Pegasus Bay
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