Friday, October 29, 2010

TN: Shaky Bridge 2006 Central Otago Pinot Noir

Well, this one was a real surprise. For one, how is it that a $15 Pinot Noir has genuine varietal character with proper balance and structure? But the bigger surprise--which probably explains the initial one--is that I was sold the wrong wine. Fortunately, the error worked in my favor. I got the Shaky Bridge 2006 Central Otago Pinot Noir, the winery's flagship wine, instead of their entry level wine. I was expecting a simple, correct, fruit-forward wine. What I got was the real deal.

At any rate, the note below tells the whole story. The wine's a little quirky, but it also has guts, and it has plenty character, too. I emailed the retailer, Winery Insider, and the head honcho Tony Westfall explained they were sent the wrong wine by the importer, and they hadn't realized the error either until shipping it out! However, they were happy to sell me more of what they had left.

See the end of the post for a note on this web-retailer.
  • 2006 Shaky Bridge Pinot Noir - New Zealand, South Island, Otago, Central Otago
    Fairly dark for a Pinot, but the nose immediately confirms this is a very good new world Pinot. Mushrooms, twigs, roses, raspberries and strawberries on the nose. Very interesting flavors on the palate. Good body with solid upfront fruit, both of the tart red and plummy sorts. Then displays a pleasant stemmy quality with pronounced metallic minerality. Concentrated without being fat. Some well-balanced oak vanillin present as well. Good acidity, dry, with chalky tannin--rare for a Pinot in my experience. This seems to have the structure to develop further in my opinion.

    I believe I was supposed to receive the lower tier Pioneer Series ($19 US), but was sent this one ($28 US) by accident. Didn't realize I had the wrong one until I saw the pictures in CT after drinking 3/4 of the bottle and wondering why it was so good! Definitely looks like a mistake in my error as this drinks like a $30+ Pinot. Best $15 I spent on Pinot . . . .
Disclaimer: I receive a credit if you make an initial purchase from Winery Insider via my referral link above. That said, I've found their customer service very good and highly responsive, not to mention they are very careful with shipping in warm weather. As for the wines they discount, they can be hit or miss. I haven't had any bad wines, but some I've felt were discounted to about what they should have cost in the first place. A few have been great values, however.

If you do use their service, their 'retail' price estimates tend to be on the high side so the calculated discount can be a bit misleading. Google Shopping and Wine-Searcher are your best friends to help verify how good a deal is from a raw dollar standpoint. I do think they deliver the best price on any given wine, and especially above the $20 price point you have a good chance of landing a great value.


Alan said...

The Winery Insider is selling the 2003, or at least that's what I saw on the web site. Did you taste the 2003 or the 2006?

Cabfrancophile said...

Alan, I tasted the 2006. If the 2003 has comparable structure, it should still be in good shape right now I think. You might want to call to ask if they still have some 2006 left, though. Just make sure it's the white label/Artisan Series as they also have some stock of the entry level Pioneer Series. I got all the info from them when I asked about how I ended up with a favorable error.

Jeff said...

Sounds like you got a good deal on that ordering from them always like Monopoly where you might get a bank error in your favor?

Cabfrancophile said...

No, not always. I'd say it's about 50-50 with these folks. The Alere Mourvedre and Serame Minervois came from them, and I wasn't excited by these wines. The L'Ecole Merlot I just posted is also from them, and that was awesome. Also got a nice deal on some aged 1999 Brunello.

It's more like Blackjack than Monopoly. A bit of a gamble, but if you make good choices it's better than even money. I like that they are West Coast based for shipping purposes and offer more than just California wines.

Jeff said...

Been a while since I've had anything from L'Ecole, but I've had the Semillon a few times and it's pretty good, especially at around 10$ or so. I'll have to try the Merlot. I really like a good, well made Merlot. As much as I like Sideways and Miles, he's only right 75% of the time.

How was that Brunello?

Cabfrancophile said...

Yeah, a well made Merlot is similar to a well made Cab Franc. Maybe a little plummier and dark chocolatey, and less herby. But not that far off

The Brunello was great. It was amazingly fresh and vibrant, but still quite tannic. I understand why folks age these things for decades. I have a 2nd bottle that I'll give at least 5 more years.

Tony said...

Hi all,
Thanks for the notes on our site. We are currently selling the 2003 which was actually the preferred wine (over the 2006) of the majority of the tasting panel. It's a hell of a deal for 15 bucks....

The 2006 white label will come back around in a few weeks. I have a very limited quantity left.

Couple notes. In general we use the high side of the wine searcher pro prices to set our retails, but we will always be at the low wine searcher price. From time to time we will have other retailers lower their prices to try to undercut us. I will always honor the low price.

We taste all the wines we sell and only sell them if we feel they are a good value.


Cabfrancophile said...

Tony, thanks for posting. From my interactions with you, I think you are a class act. I certainly haven't purchased any bad wines from you, which is more than I can say for any other retailer. I have gotten several awesome values. But I do think folks should still do their homework and understand--whether it is personal preference or intrinsic quality--that there is some variance.