2010 Pegasus Bay Prima Donna Pinot Noir

imageHeftier, oakier and more tannic than the standard Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir (which I prefer). Totally balanced though. I just feel it doesn’t have the dynamics I find so attractive in the less expensive offering. Puffs out its chest and will make a statement on the table.

Depth via both ripe fruit and eighteen months of maturation in French barriques. Red brambly fruit, liquified cherries and plums. Five spice. The juxtaposition of drinking chocolate and herbs. Power and a liqueur-like heart harnessed by firm structure. Needs time to fulfil its potential. 93+

Region: Waipara
Alcohol: 14.0%
Closure: Screwcap
Price: $105
Tasted: June 2014


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12 Responses to 2010 Pegasus Bay Prima Donna Pinot Noir

  1. Matt Moore says:

    In my sampling of “estate” vs “reserve” NZ pinot noir, I’ve generally preferred the estate. Partly because they are half the price but also because if I want a tannic, highly extracted red, pinot would probably not be my first choice. I have no doubt that the reserve wines from labels like Pegasus Bay will be great in 10 years but I’m not sure that I see the point of them at the moment.

  2. That pretty much sums up my thoughts Matt. This was my first experience with the Prima Donna so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Still a good wine in its own way I think and I appreciated the opportunity to taste it over several days but I’ll just stick to the ‘estate’ from now on.

  3. Andrew Burge says:


    I’m like minded on NZ Pinot makers going with 14.5% alcohol, 18 months in oak and producing wines like this:

    I’d rather see most NZ makers (any makers for that matter) going for expressions of fruit and terroir (ahead of expressions of oak, alcohol and winemaking trickery), a la the Rippon, Felton Road, Mt Difficulty take on reserve wines.

    In extreme cases this is what happens: http://www.brisbane-book-club.com/tasting-notes/2006-daniel-schuster-omihi-selection-pinot-noir/



  4. I like Lincoln’s comment – “erk” :) It’s interesting that both the Pegasus Bay standard and this Prima Donna both see eighteen months in French barriques. Unsure if more new oak is used in the latter or whether it’s exactly the same regime. The barrel influence certainly feels more obvious here. I wonder as to matters of extraction as well.

    Either way (and it should be noted that this is 2010 while the ‘standard’ release I’m comparing it to is 2011), I find the expression of the cheaper wine far more persuasive on a personal level. Having said that, if you’re going to go the other way with the ‘reserve’ model then I reckon this does so very successfully. It’s just not what I’m looking for in Pinot…from any country. For instance I think the Bay of Fires Pinot is a better wine than the flagship Eileen Hardy.


  5. Simon1980 says:

    What a great discussion. My own journey on Pinot Noir can be summarised in 3 waves:

    Buy “less expensive” and try to figure out the grape….then get eager to move upwards.
    “Upgrade” to the premium wines…and find out I like them less.
    Search out very specific wines – not necessarily expensive, but highly expressive.

    I have realised that, for me, Pinot Noir is all about a lighter body, delicacy, but drive through the palate. It’s been an expensive journey…


  6. GW says:

    I love this wine. Invariably one of the best from NZ. 2011 also very good. It’s very good with bottle age – like 10 years +

  7. I would love to taste a mature example. You can get an idea of what might happen over four days of tasting but ultimately it’s a very limited substitute for actual age. Perhaps my opinions would change? In any case it’s likely that my palate preferences won’t be the same in ten years time either. Regardless, I can see quality here – which is hopefully adequately represented by the score. Sometimes numbers can serve a purpose well.

  8. GW says:

    I think the review is very good. More just responding to the comments above.

  9. Sorry, no defensiveness intended. Appreciate input from someone more familiar with the Prima Donna. Just clarifying my take via reference to score in case the review wasn’t entirely clear. Difficult wine for me to review given lack of previous experience with the wine.

  10. Andrew Burge says:

    The only Peg Bay Prima Donna I’ve had was the 03 – 14.5%, lots of oak. Two bottles – one not very nice, all alcohol and oak. The other one much better, drunk about a year later. Age seemed to help.

    But that’s 10 years ago, lots can change. And in this case, sounds like its for the better,

  11. Yes, this sounds much more balanced than that even at the four year mark. Oak is in tune with fruit (if still significant) and there’s no alcohol warmth.

  12. Matt Moore says:

    GW – Completely take your comment on the importance of aging for wines like this. Generally it’s not the 10 year old versions that are rolled out at tastings tho (where I tend to catch them).

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