(2008) With a price tag and its a heavy, broad-shouldered bottle, Rickety Bridge's Merlot is clearly pitched as a fairly serious wine. It spent 24 months in French oak barrels, of which 25% was new. It has an attractively cedary nose, with a deep pool of blackcurrant fruit, and just a hint of briary undergrowth. There is possibly just a touch of Brettanomyces evident in these reds I think, but not at troublesome levels. In the mouth the fruit is very plush, ripe and forward, filling the mouth with creamy-textured and deep plum and blackcurrant flavours, set against a slightly harsh background of grippy tannin, slightly raw oak, and alcohol that is a touch hot just unbalancing the wine slightly. It is juicy enough and quite tangy, and its European styling suggests this again needs food to show at its best.
(2008) Like its sibling Merlot, this Cabernet spent 24 months in French oak, around 15% of which was new. The colour is an opaque, dark crimsony black, and the nose has a nice melange of pencil shavings and cedar, with rich blackcurrant fruit. There's a touch of that familial gaminess too, but the old polished wood and black fruit character dominates. In the mouth this has a really creamy, ripe, cassis brightness of fruit, but the whole lot is wrapped in spices and cedarwood, with some peppery notes and a big gripping core of rustic, grainy tannin. There is fine balance in this wine, and for me it is one of the stars of this line-up as it has the mid-palate concentration of fruit to make for more balanced drinking.
(2008) Rickety Bridge's Shiraz is a mix of Franschhoek and Stellenbosch fruit, vinified separately before blending part-way through their 24 months ageing in 20% new and 80% older French oak barrels. At five years of age the wine is more about leather, spices and grilled meat character than primary fruit, and once again there's that slightly animal character to this wine. It is very much in an Old World style. On the palate I find the wine slightly harsh, but then there is a liquoricy grip to the fruit and tannins, and the charry quality of the oak adds a charcoally edge. It certainly has some chewy, robust savoury character, and grew on me as I tasted.
(2008) The flagship wine of the whole Rickety Bridge range, this is composed of the best barrels of the 2003 Cab and Merlot, given 24 months in small French oak barrels, but with a higher proportion (36%) of new oak. The sweet intensity of the fruit here is immediately obvious, sitting on top of the pencil-shaving notes, and also hinting at some raisin and espresso coffee quality. On the palate there is a cool, elegant, composed black fruit quality that presents itself much more openly than with the other reds in the range, with a silky purity to the fruit and those mocha and spicy oak notes just filling in beneath. There's more juiciness in this wine too, certainly than in the Merlot and Shiraz, and the tight, bright acidity and rather more polished tannin structure both sit very harmoniously. A lovely wine this, a nd it is the most complete wine of the line-up without doubt.
(2005) Two-thirds of this wine is aged in French oak barrels, giving it a very elegant, cedary, aspect on the nose and a lovely core of black fruit. On the palate there is copious black fruit that is bittersweet and svelte.
(2005) Very densely planted vines (10,000 per hectare) is one of the secrets to the quality here, with a truffly, earthy nose and flood of soft berry fruit, leading on to a palate that is full of finesse, with sweet fruit, fine tannins and a discretely toasty finish.
(2003) Big, schisty and charcoally nose with decisive blueberry fruit and pepper. Big, bold, sweet-fruited mouthful of wine, with lush fruit quality before a concentrated underpinning of tannin and spicy, warming, fudge-like oak. Good acidity and length.
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