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2018 Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Semillon

Jun 2024 Selection

The 2018 Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Semillon is a pale lemon wine with aromas of passionfruit, melon, orange peel and citrus blossom and a rich, lush palate.

2018 Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Semillon

The Donaldson family has been immersed in the wine industry since the early 1970s and were
pioneers of local grape growing and wine making. Associate Professor and Consultant Neurologist,
Ivan Donaldson first became interested in wine when his girlfriend at the time, Christine, gave him a
book simply called, “Wine.”

Penned by English industry legend, Hugh Johnson, the book started Ivan on an exciting journey that
has never stopped. After travelling to explore the wine regions of Europe, Ivan returned home to
plant one of the first vineyards of modern times in Canterbury and to marry Christine, who has been
an integral part of the Pegasus Bay story.

What started out as a hobby soon turned in the mid-1980s into the Pegasus Bay vineyard, established
with the help of their four sons each of whom is a key part of the business today.

The vineyard is located within the Waipara Valley of North Canterbury, on free-draining, north-facing
terraces. 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 microclimate. 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 vigor. This produces low yields of optimally ripened, high quality,
flavorful grapes, that fully express the qualities of this unique terroir. The vineyard has warm days,
but the nights are among the coolest in the Waipara Valley, drawing out the ripening period of the
grapes while still retaining good natural acidity.

Settled weather during December provided optimal conditions for flowering. A very hot summer then
enabled the grapes to ripen beautifully. Free draining stony soil helped mitigate the effects of some
late summer rain, and the ensuing dry autumn meant the fruit was able to be picked in excellent

This wine is made from a blend of 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon. Both varieties were picked
in stages, timing each harvest to optimize the grapes’ range of natural flavors. These varieties were
fermented separately—most of the Sauvignon Blanc in stainless steel to retain the pure fruit
character (with approximately one third on skins) and all the Semillon in oak puncheons 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 (sur lie)
for approximately 10 months before blending. Once bottled, the wine was left to age for another year
before release, allowing it to integrate further.

Winemaker’s notes describe the wine thus: “It is pale lemon in color, with intriguing aromas of
passionfruit, melon, orange peel and citrus blossom, coupled with a flinty minerality. There is also a
hint of struck match complexity arising from the cloudy, unclarified, natural juice that was used in the
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. Lees contact has
added texture and body, yet the wine remains focused, with a crisp refreshing acidity that
emphasizes its mineral notes.”

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