FROM THE TASTINGS: PEGASUS BAY

Pegasus Bay doesn’t need any introduction, its place as Canterbury’s leading winery is well established. A lot of the success of the Waipara region can be attributed to the pioneering success of Pegasus Bay. After 25+ years the Donaldson family’s Pegasus Bay wines are still recognised as leaders in their styles. The theme of the tasting could have well been, as Mat’s T shirt described, “Well Hung”, referencing how Pegasus Bay like to have their fruit well ripened picking late in the season. This is a style Mat enjoys with not only the sweeter wines but also the drier wines such as the Bel Canto Riesling and Sauvignon Semillon and the grapes are always amongst the very last to be harvest in the Waipara Valley. With a number of wines that we tasted from the 2014 vintage where there was rain late in the ripening season. The faith that Mat and the team had that things would ‘come right’ and they would be rewarded with lovely botrytis fruit paid off. The 2014 wines – Rieslings, and even the dry Sauvignon Semillon are very good indeed.

Tonight Mat showed us a mix of current, and future releases including the special aged cellar release 2006 Riesling. As always with Pegasus Bay expectations of high quality wines was met.


Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Semillon 2014 $28.99

This is always a distinctive wine, partially barrel fermented and aged and made to emulate the Bordeaux dry white style. This 2014 is much richer than previous vintages due to the addition of some botrytis affected Semillon that has been fermented to dryness. In the glass it has a yellowish colour, with tropical fruits and meadow hay flavours. Quie rich, mouthfilling and concentrated and finishing with a nice zesty herbal finish. Just released.


Pegasus Bay Riesling 2014 $27.99

The Riesling grape is the Pegasus Bay speciality. This 2014 shows strong marmalade, spicy orange zest, mandarin, runny honey flavours. There is noticeable sweetness with the botrytis character coming through. Very moorish and yum.


Pegasus Bay Riesling 2006 Limited Cellar Release $39.99

Starting with this Riesling, Pegasus Bay have decided to hold back a small quantity of wine for an aged release 10 years on. This 10 year old Riesling is developing nicely. The sweetness has dried out a little and the flavours are becoming like toast and marmalade.


Pegasus Bay Bel Canto Dry Riesling 2014 $29.99

This is basically the dry version of the sweet Aria Riesling. The grapes for both are picked at the same time, very late into the season. With the Bel Canto the juice is fermented to as dry as possible on solids to add some funk, texture and weight. There is richness again and the botrytis character comes through.


Main Divide TeHau Pinot Noir 2014 $28.99

The Main Divide label is usually designated for fruit not grown on the estate, however the 2014 could be called the second label of Pegasus Bay as this is basically a barrel selection of home vineyard wine originally destined for the Pegasus Bay 2014. So neither a Main Divide nor Pegasus Bay, but a ‘special edition’ that sits nicely between the two. Earthy dark fruits with a rounded mouthfeel. Quite approachable, but also has a ‘brooding’ feel. Excellent value buying.


Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2013 $44.99

Another new release, this 2013 Pinot Noir is a ‘real Star’. Softer and more floral than recent vintages. There is a flavour burst of sensual dark fruits, violet/floral and truffle notes on a palate that  could be described as ‘silky and sauve.’ This wine was rated as “outstanding 95/100′ by UK’s Decanter in a tasting of 172 NZ Pinot Noirs (September 2016)


Pegasus Bay Prima Donna Pinot Noir 2012 $84.99

2012 was a very cool vintage and the grapes were harvested later than any previous vintage at Pegasus Bay. This cool but fine, extended ripening period has given a wine of elegance, and brooding finesse. Not a high impact wine, this rather sneaks up and sooths the senses. Seamless and fine. This wine too attracted the attention of the Decanter wine panel when it was rated as “outstanding” in a lineup of Pinot Noirs chosen to represent the best from each Pinot Noir producing region outside Burgundy (April 2016).


Pegasus Bay Merlot Cabernet 2013 $28.99

Pegasus Bay remain one of only a handful of producers in the South Island who produce a Bordeaux variety red. The old 30 year+ Merlot and Cabernet vines have settled into their place and this is a wine to pleasantly surprise those who do not believe Canterbury can produce a decent Bordeaux style ‘Claret’. Cassis and ripe blackcurrant flavours are underpinned by vanilla, some toasty oak, chocolate and spice. This is a very good vintage release.


Pegasus Bay Aria Late Harvest Riesling 2014 $35.99

The amount of botrytis in 2014 really suited a wine style such as this. Picked at a ripe 28 brix with 50% botrytised fruit. Simply put, this is golden and delicious. There is a nice line of acidity with a salivating, salty mineral finish. Chill and enjoy with or without food.


Pegasus Bay Finale Noble Sauvignon Semillon 2014 375ml

And the last wine was fittingly the Finale Sauvignon Blanc Semillon. Likely100% Botrytis Sauvignon Blanc fruit this vintage. Slowly wild fermented in old oak and aged in barrel for around two years. Unctuous, lemon marmalade syrup with plenty of acidity to keep it in line. To be released in a few months