In this traditional French blend the sauvignon blanc has given a complex range of exotic aromas and flavours suggestive of lychees, paw paw, Turkish musk and passionfruit, backed by hints of gooseberry and dried wild herbs. The Semillon has added complementary lemon and lime flavours and help fill out the midpalate providing weight and depth. The wine has a backbone of tangy minerality and acidity which helps dry out the palate and give it a zippy finish.
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 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.
Warm and settled weather during flowering led to a very large initial set. Fruit thinning was then undertaken to bring the crop back to the desired level. A perfect summer, followed by a warm dry autumn enabled the subsequent grapes to be harvested with excellent flavour development and physiological ripeness.
THE HARVEST AND WINEMAKING.
This is a unique expression of a traditional white Bordeaux blend using approximately 70% Sauvignon Blanc & 30% Semillon. The Sauvignon was picked in stages during April, timing each harvest to optimise the grapes’ range of natural flavours. The Semillon was harvested in May. These varieties were fermented separately, the majority of the Sauvignon in stainless steel to retain the pure fruit character, and all of the Semillon in oak 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 (sue 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.
The colour is pale lemon with aromas of orange blossom, lime, gooseberry and passionfruit. There is also a hint of struck match complexity arising from skin contact during 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. The lees contact adds further creaminess and body, however there is still a crisp refreshing minerality on the finish.