Main Divide Riesling Pegasus Bay Review

Named in honor of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, regionally known as the Main Divide, this delicate Riesling is grown in the Waipara valley – just 20-30 minutes drive from Christchurch in the Canterbury region of New Zealand.

Main Divide Riesling Pegasus Bay
Main Divide Riesling Pegasus Bay

Pegasus Bay have been a predominant vineyard and winery in the New Zealand wine scene since the 1970s, with the Donaldson family proudly running the winery including everything from the viticulture and wine curation through to the business side and global sales. In a world where so many vineyards are being increasingly consumed away from family run enterprises into larger conglomerates, it is a rare treat to be able to help support a true family business.

The vineyard itself gets maximum protection from the Pacific’s easterly breezes from the Teviotdale Range and heat is promoted by the stones and gravel left behind by glacial deposits. This both helps to support the tastes of the Riesling and also impart further notes of minerality which are present in many wines from the vineyard.

Moving into the sweet side of the spectrum, in a way strongly reminiscent of muscat wine, Main Divide Pegasus Bay is off-dry, and driven predominantly by sweet floral notes of honeysuckle and white fruits. As the riper fruit notes (apricot and other stone fruits) gradually fade away, a more tart note of citrus fruits (lime, predominantly) moves into the front of the palate and really rounds off the sweeter notes present.

Pairing food with Riesling

Back of Main Divide Riesling Pegasus Bay
Back of Main Divide Riesling Pegasus Bay

Due to the sweeter notes, this riesling is perfect for enjoying alone or even taking the form of a dessert or after-dinner wine. Despite this however, the richness of the taste will harmonize well with more strongly flavored foods such as seafood (clams, oysters or scallops) or even Asian dishes (such as Chinese, Thai, or Vietnamese).

When pairing a sweet wine such as this with food it is always important to ensure that neither the sweetness of the wine, nor the flavors of the food, overpower either side of the equation. Too strong flavored food will completely demolish the wine and leave it feeling flat, and too mild flavors will leave the wine completely overpowering your flavors.

Fortunately, the mineral and acidic undercurrents of this wine take a lot of the edge off here (in comparison to say, a muscat / muscato) and allow you more flexibility than with very sweet and traditional dessert wines (which unsurprisingly, predominantly pair well with desserts).

New Zealand Wines

Although more commonly regarded as a European grape, Riesling from New Zealand and other warmer climates has exploded in popularity in the last decade, with the growth of viticulture flourishing in the country since the late 1970s with an increase in immigration from Croatia. While more commonly known for the distinctive styles of Sauvignon Blanc that the country is well known for, there has been a drive in recent years for the more aromatic grape varietals including Gewurztraminer and of course, Riesling.

Due to the cultural variation in the country, New Zealand wines have considerable variation, and microclimates mean that you will typically find a large variety of grapes and wines being grown and developed throughout the island.

Main Divide Riesling Pegasus Bay Label
Main Divide Riesling Pegasus Bay Label

In the southern vineyards, which are typically cooler, you’ll find Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (both of which have had considerable success in the international community) while the vineyards to the North are predominantly known for the classic Sauvignon Blanc and increasingly more floral and fragrant grape varietals.

This climate variation is one of the ways that New Zealand helps to differentiate itself from many other regions in the New World. Due to the increased investment into viticulture in the region, it’s highly likely that New Zealand wines will only increase in both quality and demand (both local and international) as the wine scene there develops further.

In the grand scheme, it seems reasonable to say that “wine culture” has only been flourishing in New Zealand for the last two decades. In comparison to many regions in the Old World, New Zealand is by all accounts a “baby” in the international consideration. With the variety in wines driving the explosion of popularity, we are excited to see what’s coming up soon both for Pegasus Bay, and for the country in whole.