Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2018

Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2018, Waipara, New Zealand 13.5% 

(£26.50, North and South Wines, Saxtys Wines, Must Wines, The Wine Reserve)

February has proved a bleak month for those in lockdown in the UK but it was brightened somewhat by New Zealand Winegrowers holding its first ever Virtual Wine Week (8-12 Feb) featuring various tastings of that country’s increasingly fine wines.

One of these featured new releases, sent in small boxed sachets (see pic below). This environmentally-friendly approach has much to commend it, though we must confess to having some out-of-condition wines – plus, we couldn’t re-taste (eg with food), which we always tend to do over time before recommending.

Nevertheless, despite these limitations, there were one or two zesty Sauvignons that impressed (Nautilus and Villa Maria Reserve Wairau, both from the excellent 2020 vintage). But the real stars of this particular show came from one producer and one vintage.

Pegasus Bay is a family-owned winery, established back in 1970 in the Waipara Valley, North Canterbury on New Zealand’s South Island, an area currently making some very exciting wines. We were sent the estate’s Riesling, Sauvignon/Semillon blend and Pinot Noir to taste, all from the warm 2018 vintage. All proved to be outstanding wines.

We’ve chosen to highlight the Pinot Noir, which is beautifully dense and multi-layered, with all the characteristics of a truly great Pinot. It’s edgy, with game and forest-floor aromas. Like the Sauvignon/Semillon, it’s funky and not for the faint-hearted, but what a wine if you’re prepared to let your taste-buds be truly challenged. It has vibrancy and depth, a really serious and classy wine. (8/10, SPR, Feb 2021)

But we could easily have gone with either of these two wines:

Pegasus Bay Riesling 2018, £22 (New Zealand House of Wine, The Vinorium, Direct Wine Sussex)

Classic Riesling in a rich yet hugely refreshing style. Late picked and with a portion of botrytised grapes in the blend, it’s off-dry and exudes ripe apricot fruit and honeyed spice, as well as Riesling’s hallmark backbone of mouth-watering acidity. (8/10, SPR, Feb 2021)

Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Semillon 2018, £22.15 (Must Wines, New Zealand House of Wine, Wines with Attitude, Cellar Door Wines)

An extraordinary wine from the moment it hits your nose and its deep lemon liquid slides across your tongue. Pure gunflint backed up by an intensely leesy, lemon rind flavour. So concentrated, so reductive, so seductive. Bordeaux take note, you may have met your match. (8/10, SPR, Feb 2021)