On the wings of a Pegasus

Pegasus Bay winery was the final stop on our tour through Waipara and it felt like the best had been left until last. The gardens were immaculate (somewhat like Domaine Chandon in the Yarra Valley) and the quality of wines was impressive.

Sauvignon Blanc Semillon: The depth of this wine in the glass was quite amazing. Equally impressive was the way the Semillon (which typically needs a few years to mature) was already contributing to the overall quality of the wine. There was an odd smokiness in the bouquet which was difficult to ascribe to anything in particular, which detracted a bit from the varietal character. The taste was very nice and round, but the aftertaste was the aspect to like most about this – which left you wanting more. $29.50 NZD per bottle.

2016 Chardonnay: There is an interesting herbaceous edge to the bouquet to this wine not found too often in a Chardonnay of this age. The nose is otherwise brilliant and amazingly inviting, which leads into a palate of good complexity and concentration. The fruit is dominant which is a true delight. There is not a lot of the typical Chardonnay buttery flavours, which will be pleasing to fans of unwooded Chardonnay wines. $40.50 NZD per bottle.

2015 “Bel Canto” Riesling: In a word – WOW. This wine was our consensus pick for the winery and for the tour. (It is available at Duty-Free Christchurch International as well…) The light golden colour in the glass is typical Riesling, but the scent of honey on top of the lemon zest clearly indicates Botrytis is present (side note: 2015 actually saw less Botrytis in the mixture than usual due to fermenting in open bunches, so it is a deliberate ploy by the winemakers, not an accident). The initial taste is medium sweet but the complexity begins to grow and grow and… it goes on for quite a while… The length is impressive, by far the longest finish of any of the wines tasted to this point on the tour, and the acid remains in harmony with the fruit throughout making for a perfect aftertaste and much happiness! $33.50 NZD per bottle.

2015 Pinot Noir: A good example of cool climate red wine. The colour is amazing and the aroma is more powerful than a lot of the red wines sampled on the tour. On the palate, the red fruits are absolutely dominant, relegating the black fruits to a supporting role, but adding to the length. Certainly a well made wine. $49 NZD per bottle.

“Maestro” Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec blend: The leafiness of Malbec is actually quite distinct, even when mixed with Cabernet Sauvignon which commonly shows some leafy notes in the bouquet. The red-purple-black colour of this wine is simply brilliant and no description could do it justice, somewhere between a good Shiraz and a powerful Durif and you get the idea – it is brilliant in colour. When tasting, it is the Merlot that dominates at first and the Malbec that provides the herbaceous finish. If you are looking for a big, fruity red wine this is probably not your best choice (go for the Pinot Noir instead) but if you are looking for a light yet long finishing wine that is simply beautiful to look at in the glass, this would be your best choice. $48 NZD per bottle.

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