Produced by LeRiche, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Purchased: Tanasbourne GO 4-8-2014
To be clear, I didn’t purchase this wine. It was from a wine-swap with JWC. We met up last weekend; I took him a bottle of the Colonial Estate Emigre and he very kindly brought us a bottle of this 2001 Le Riche. It has been all I could do to wait a few days, just to let it get over its travel shock. Normally I wouldn’t review a wine that wasn’t still on the shelves, but when we talked, JWC mentioned that he’d like to know what we thought of the wine so I thought I’d do a write-up.
When JWC reviewed it back in April, he left these comments: “Purchased on April 8, the day before the sale when I popped in Tanasbourne to see what was on the shelves. Nice bottle label, looked high end, but still with a 13-year-old wine, even if it is a cab, thought I’d check it out before going all in. The wine is well structured and delicious, built to age, as the winemaker states on the website. That winemaker is Etienne le Riche, cab sav specialist, and previous long term winemaker at Rustenberg, one of SA’s best wineries…of course Le Riche Reserves are viewed as one of the top wines in the land, as well. Onto the wine, talk about hitting a home run…this is excellent! Dark ruby in color, cork in pristine condition too, aromas of casis, graphite, dark cherries, chocolate and cigar box. Dry flavors of casis, chocolate, herbs and licorice. Wonderful structure and firm tannins, Rich and creamy flavors/texture, spent 18 months in 70% new French Oak. Needless to say, went back on the 9th, and purchased some more, 14 cases is what they rcvd of this, and it was gone, in a few hours. IMO this is at it’s peak now, but could go another ten years I suppose. Do look forward to comparing it with some of the other ’01 cabs in the cellar. Great score by GO, did not see this at any of the other GO’s in the area however. Anyone who picked this up, please share your thoughts, enjoy!”
So now to “sharing our thoughts”…this is what I wrote up:
Color: dark garnet
Nose: black fruit, Cassis, cocoa, a hint of menthol
First sip: Wow. (Is that an allowable tasting note?) I honestly wondered what to expect given the age of the wine and my unfamiliarity with South African wines in general. I wasn’t a much of a fan of the Road Less Traveled Cabernet (I can’t remember if we had the 2007 or 2008) that came through GO; but there was too much vegetal/green pepper in that one, for my taste. Thankfully there is no hint of that characteristic in the 2001 Le Riche. Also I was wondering if the age of the wine would show in its taste, again, no. It’s drinking beautifully. I also think it reasonably has a few years left to enjoy it without fearing decline.
The stats are:
RS – 1.5 g/l (Dry)
Le Riche refers to this wine as having “somewhat edgy acidity”. Structure is definitely there. I agree and randomly thought that Seedboy would love this one.
What I do taste? A plethora…or better yet, to quote Howard Carter, “….wonderful things.” Firstly, I want to comment on the mouthfeel. I would call it full but not in the “velvety” or “silky” California/Napa style; rather just full and satisfying. The alcohol is very balanced. I find it to taste slightly hotter than the 13.5% but not in a bad way. The black fruit nose follows through to the taste; Cassis (black currant liqueur) and black cherry are in the forefront and I can taste a hint of menthol (unusual for me but it’s so light and not at all a detraction…just something I noticed). Graphite…(this is the moment where I sat back and thought “Absolutely the best part about tasting GO wines is coming across a gem like this”). Honestly, I have not had a wine from GO that had such lovely graphite undertones. That is one of my favorite Stags Leap characteristics and was happy to discover something similar here. Cocoa nibs and leather are both evident and sublime, and as the wine opened up, I really noticed why other reviewers mentioned “cigar box” or “tobacco” in their tasting notes.
I’m not sure what the SRP is on this wine but (IMO) an equivalent U.S. Cabernet would probably start at $65 and up. I can see why JWC was so effusive (and thanks to him again, for giving us the opportunity to taste it)! I only hope he gets as much enjoyment out of the Emigre as we have, the Le Riche.