Le Riche 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot

Stellenbosch, South Africa
65% Cabernet, 35% Merlot; 14.0% ABV
$2 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 5 May.  Already gone.  If it returns, the price may be higher.

LeRiche_2003_CabSauvMerlotWhen this showed up, I recalled JWC’s positive review of the 2001 Le Riche Reserve Cabernet, so I got one right away.  I can’t say this wine lives up to the 2001 Reserve, but it’s still decent considering the low price.

The wine was tasty from first pour, but it darkens and smooths out after about 1.5 hours of air.  It has a nice nose of earth, aged complexity, and tangy red fruit.  On the palate, I found tangy, dark cherry, red / purple plum, earth / rust (in a way that reminded me of some Amador County, CA, wines), and lighter prune.  Interestingly, I thought it resembled the recently reviewed Robertson Winery 2010 Pinotage more than it does a California Cabernet or Merlot.  Quite vibrant and lively, it’s very good for $2.  The catch is it’s slightly over the hill, which becomes more noticeable as the wine airs.  Thus, I suggest not airing this wine and drinking it on one night, or using it to cook with.  The single-glass screw cap bottle I saved for another night had become undrinkably vinegary.


13 thoughts on “Le Riche 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot

  1. seedboy

    Opened my last bottle of this last night. Delicious. Makes me wish I had more. It is still drinking beautifully. It is classic Stellenbosch. Probably never was very fruity, but great herbaciousness and savory notes with an elegance I rarely find in California wines like this. Will probably get into a Naledi 1999 soon.

    1. Darrell

      ” Makes me wish I had more, ” is a wish you might not want since this bottle ranges from horrid to your sublime experience. SB, I didn’t think you liked herbaceousness when thinking about your dislike of Chilean CS/ Bx.varieties. Concerning methoxypyrazin (MP)/ bell pepper, I recently opened a 1980 bottle of Merlot from Winery Lake Vd. under Rene di Rosa’s cultivation and in it’s youth it reeked of bell pepper as did some of my bottles of 1970’s homemade CS/Bx. varieties from the Salinas Valley. I didn’t have a bottle of the Winery Lake Merlot for about a decade since it wasn’t appealing, but the other night my wife and I were pleasantly surprised by the Bordeaux-like nose which also comes across in my bottles, too. I couldn’t believe she said to open the rebottled half bottle of the Merlot for the rest of dinner which we never do. She also said not to gift anymore of our homemade. From an issue of Practical Winery & Vineyard Magazine, ” In the same study, after ageing Cabernet Sauvignon for three years in a dark cellar, no significant change in MP content was recorded. Therefore, dependence on ageing or time in bottle to decrease vegetal character in wine is probably not an effective strategy.” is something I’ll disagree with somewhat. What I am trying to impart here is don’t give up on those MP laden bottles whether from Grand Vin Bordeaux to homemade. While not too practical, one has to age them and have some patience and hope to live long enough to enjoy them.

      1. Seedboy

        My issue with the lower end Chilean reds is that the herbaciousness in those reminds me of what I smell like when weeding my front yard. Stellenbosch is way different.

    2. seedboy

      The last glass left in an uncorked bottle showed no deterioration. It helps a lot that the appeal of these wines is not in primary fruit flavors.

  2. Darrell

    I think there is bottle variability in this bottling. I have had a bottle like SB’s and one like the pruney one BW had. I couldn’t get the Amador County connection at first, but now I do.

    1. Seedboy

      My bottles have been pretty consistent given the age and travel. I’m pretty sure these wines spent a couple of years lost in the GO warehouse somewhere

    2. Darrell

      After today’s posting under the 2007 Road Less Traveled commenting on the 2008, I would have to say as fine as the better bottle of the 2003 Le Riche is, the 2007 RLT is worth 2 1/2 times the cost of the Le Riche, whereas the one bottle of the 2008 I have had, definitely isn’t.

    3. Darrell

      I have had a bottle that rivals The Road Less Traveled Stellenbosch CS, but today; ugh. This bottle couldn’t be drunk it was so stewed and pruney. Might not be able to use as cooking wine it is so bad. Yeah, there’s a reason some wines show up at GO.

  3. seedboy

    I drank a bottle of this over a two day period and found it pretty pleasant the second day. To me the red wines from Stellenbosch have a very distinctive herbal quality about them that does appear in this wine and I find it quite appealing.

    1. BargainWhine Post author

      Hi Seedboy. I’m glad to hear you liked this wine pretty well, even on the second day.

      At the Richmond store today, there was a “Road Less Traveled” 2007 Cabernet from Stellenbosch for $5. I got a bottle, but with this hot weather, I’ll be opening a white this evening.


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