Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


New old wines… Wines of this week

It’s always a great experience tasting wine with Mat Donaldson, one of New Zealand’s most talented winemakers and, as fellow wine writer Bob Campbell MW has described him, one of the most thoughtful. This comes across in all the wines he makes at the family owned Pegasus Bay Winery, but this week’s top drops are aged Pinot Noirs that have been re-released this year as part of an intentional cellar programme that the family began in 2006.

These wines show that New Zealand has many strong strings to its Pinot bow, even if the best known Pinots come from Central Otago. This pair are made from the Waipara Valley in the heart of North Canterbury. They are made with grapes grown on vines with an average age of 25 to 30 years, many of which remain ungrafted on their own roots. Winemaking is a risky business at the best of times but ungrafted vines? Surely that’s just asking for trouble? Aside from leaving vines open to the risk of phylloxera (an aphid that destroys grapevines by gnawing into their roots), it can also mean that grapevines have to struggle against other predators, which grafting could prevent. On the other hand, ungrafted vines are often highly prized because they can be seen as expressing their flavours without an intermediary of a different rootstock. I won’t delve any further down that rabbit hole this week. Suffice to say, this pair of 10 year old Pinots from North Canterbury are both drinking insanely well right now but clearly have more time up their sleeves too.

Thanks again to the Donaldson family for sending their great wines in for rating and review. The quality, style and deliciousness of the range are exceptional for their consistency.

Wines of the week

2010 Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir Aged Release $52
Dark, smooth and full bodied, this is North Canterbury Pinot Noir at its best. The 2010 vintage was warm, sunny and long, providing great quality grapes and wines with structure and complexity to last for the long haul, in the best possible way. A must try for lovers of great Pinot Noir.

2010 Pegasus Bay Prima Donna Pinot Noir $120
Pegasus Bay Winery started its aged release programme in 2006, setting aside a few cases of their key wines, Riesling and Pinot Noir, with the intention of releasing them 10 years later. This gives wine lovers an easy way to see what great old wines taste like when they have been cellared in ideal conditions such as the cool, dark, temperate stable cellars at Pegasus Bay. This wine is made from one of the warmest vintages in North Canterbury which had nearly four months of constant sunshine. It was an impressive wine at the time of its first release about eight years ago but now it’s all about complex earthy, mushroom and truffle flavours. Deliciously good.

Prices are approximate RRP and may vary.

Find out more and buy the wines here.