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Pegasus Bay Riesling Masterclass

Riesling Masterclass Blog Post


The use of small levels of noble rot - botrytis in a key element that has come to define the classic Pegasus Bay Riesling style. The opportunity for a preview of their tasting, featured at the New Zealand School of Food and Wine, on Sunday 28 July heightens the anticipation of what will be a fascinating event.

Pegasus Bay, the highly regarded estate, owned by the Donaldson Family, from Waipara in North Canterbury, released its first riesling in 1993 and today its grapes are sourced primarily from the original un-grafted vineyards planted over 30 years ago. Today they offer a selection of rieslings with different names, inspired by operatic terms, and varying levels of sweetness and noble rot. 

The Pegasus Bay Riesling, an off-dry style with around 5% botrytis allows the wine to develop extra concentration and complexity. Low cropping levels and then leaving the grapes to hang on the vine for as long as possible enables Pegasus Bay to achieve a rich, purity of fruit that according to Edward Donaldson, “keeps you going back to have another sip…” 

Edward also believes that while ripe fruits dominate the wine when young, given the opportunity to age, the rieslings can feel drier on the palate especially as they develop more savoury, caramel and toasty notes. 

It is hard not to instantly like these luscious wines. With one sniff, of the Pegasus Bay Encore Noble Riesling 2016 there are aromas redolent of plump ripe apricots or passionfruit and pineapple and on the palate, marmalade tones and refreshing lemon-lime acidity.

Other standout wines for me were the aged releases of Pegasus Bay Riesling 2009 (Retail $40). With some honey, kerosene notes on the nose and on the palate a delicious sensation of crisp lime zest and sherbet. In addition, it was a treat to taste the Pegasus Bay Aria 2007, golden in colour with honey and quince on the palate.

The Main Divide Pokiri Late Picked Pinot Gris (Retail $25), named about Ivan Donaldson’s Great-great grandmother, was an intriguing combination of bruised nectarine, clover honey and some savoury, toasted hazelnut notes from its two year’s ageing in oak barrels. 

Join us for this special tasting – 

Sunday 28 July 2.30 – 4pm at the New Zealand School of Food and Wine

Click here to register.

Celia Hay


About the W&F Wine and Food Event

The New Zealand Wine and Food Eventis an annual three-day public event in Auckland comprising a showcase of New Zealand and international wine, cooking workshops and master classes. 


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Celia Hay

Celia is a qualified chef and holds the WSET (London) Diploma of Wine. She has a Bachelor of Arts in History, Master of Education (Distinction) and MBA Master of Business Administration from the University of Canterbury.

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The School

Founded by Celia Hay, the New Zealand School of Food and Wine opened its first campus in Christchurch in 1995.

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