One of the best things about being in lockdown is the lack of commuting which allows me more reading time. I’m using it to enjoy my favourite newspaper, the thought provoking Guardian Weekly, in which George Monbiot writes a story this week called Horror movies get it wrong – we’re being caring, not callous, published on 10 April.
He writes about one of the most extraordinary things about lockdown globally is that some people feel less isolated than they have done for years, as their neighbours ensure they are not alone. I can relate. Not so much to the neighbours – although ours are pretty good in quid pro quo swaps (they get the odd bunch of open wines, which I’ve tasted; I get fresh figs, fresh lemons, apples, rhubarb, zucchinis… and we’re all better friends than we were before lockdown. Win-win).
It’s other contact I can relate to. I’m in total lockdown but I’m working from home, as well as walking and cycling a lot too. And all of a sudden, a lot of people are noticeably a lot kinder than they were a few weeks ago. For instance, most (definitely not all) cars are driving a lot more slowly on country roads while I’m cycling (within a 5km radius of home). People smile, nod and wave more in the street. My work contacts are all more concerned about each others’ well being than ever before. I’m always the one in my family who sends the care packages (no need to cue a small violin – I enjoy doing it) but last week I was sent one, which really took me by surprise, until I saw who had sent it.
The Donaldson family who own Pegasus Bay Winery in North Canterbury are among the most generous, caring and talented people I know. They are friends as well as colleagues working in the same industry but the reason they have become friends is due to the huge admiration I have for their entrepreneurship, risk taking creativity in winemaking and in creating such a spectacularly beautiful home for their brand on what was a dry country road in North Canterbury prior to the mid 1980s.
The consistency of their wines is one of many reasons I admire them so much.
With such an impressive care pack, it made sense to write about these wines. I feel lucky to live in a world where wines like this provide such a glimmer of hope when things get scary.
Prices are approximate and may vary.
Wines of the week
2009 Pegasus Bay Riesling, 12.5% ABV $38-$40-ish
This succulent spatlese styled Riesling from North Canterbury is an aged release from a great year, 2009, which is why the winery intentionally held a portion back to relaunch it at a later date. The grapes were harvested late, as always for the flagship (by which I mean, the most widely produced and best known) Riesling from this winery. It’s rich flavours, honeyed texture and and notes of lemongrass, lemon zest and ripe mandarins lead into a full bodied, weighty, off dry white with high but balanced acidity providing a long finish.
2018 Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Semillon, 13.5% ABV $32
This is a new release and is characteristically succulent and zesty with funky earthy notes on the nose and a deliciously citrus flavour leading into an almost full bodied dry white. It’s a blend of 70% Sauvignon Blanc, partially barrel fermented (all old oak) with 30% Semillon also fermented in old oak to add weight, softness and texture. Incredibly tasty dry white with a good decade or more up its sleeve. I’ve tasted 10 and 12 year old bottles of earlier vintages of this wine and they remain fresh and tight.
2010 Pegasus Bay Chardonnay, 13.5% ABV $50
This is an old wine but not an aged release; it’s been maturing beautifully in the cool dark cellars at the winery in North Canterbury and it’s in a great drinking window at the moment with refreshing acidity adding length to the creamy smooth texture provided by the malolactic ferment.
I’m giving it 19 out of 20 for its impeccable balance, smooth creamy texture, succulent acidity and long finish.
2016 Pegasus Bay Prima Donna Pinot Noir 13.5% ABV, $100
Prima Donna is the cheeky name for the top tier Pinot Noir, which is made only in years when quality stands head and shoulders above other wines. It’s not a reserve wine, as such, but rather a blend of the best barrels, so it’s a subjective call made by the winemaking team. That said, quality and style tend to be extremely consistent; earthy flavours combined with freshness, power and elegance.
These were the stand outs. Lucky me. Lucky all of us who can enjoy great wine because it provides pleasure in so many ways, not least thinking about the source of it.