2001 Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve $3.99

Produced by LeRiche, Stellenbosch, South Africa
13.5% ABV
Purchased: Tanasbourne GO 4-8-2014

TFullSizeRendero 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:

pH -3.8
TA -6.3g/l
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.


10 thoughts on “2001 Le Riche Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve $3.99

  1. Seedboy

    I never saw a bottle of this but there was a 2003 Cab/Merlot blend that cost even less that appeared briefly here. I was lucky to get a case. Typical Stellenbosch herbaciousness, fruit still holding on, elegant wine.

      1. permiesworld Post author

        I never tried the (Le Riche) blend, Darrell so I couldn’t say. I will say though that ever since I tasted this Le Riche Reserve cab, I’ve been looking online to find it. I’d pay more….it just hit every like that I have. I am not a fan of the RLT

      2. jwc

        Now Darrell, don’t take this personally, but are you out of your frickin mind? 🙂 The Le Riche ’01 Reserve is why we all troll at GO, this quality of wine, at a fraction of its original release price is simply amazing. To answer your question, yes & duh, it’s worth it. 🙂 Cheers!

      3. Seedboy

        Darrell, interesting question but highly theoretical, as the answer really only matters if you have a choice of buying one of the two wines. The Le Riche showed up very briefly and then was gone, so you can really only judge the RLT on its own merits, or, by comparing it with other opportunities available to you when the RLT was on the shelf (a longer period of time, but still long gone). Right now one might ask, should I buy the Cima Collina pinot for $6.99 or the Hill wines for a dollar or two more — all three are still at Oakland. To me, the Cima Collina is a better wine, so the answer is easy.

    1. Darrell

      Sorry, I neglected to address the question of relative worth to SB since he is one of the few who can directly compare the two wines. Not so theoretical when one can have a side by side or nearly so and practical for me when two wines have the same appellation and from what I can tell, similar in character. Should a similar occasion arise, I might want somebody to advise me where to put my wine dollars.

  2. Richard

    I recently has a bottle of the 1999 of the Le Riche Cab Reserve and it was alive and well. Excellent wine, which I paid $26 for in 2003.

  3. jwc

    Just when I was thinking this year had been kind of iffy at GO, you reminded me of this nice score PW! Thank you, I haven’t popped the cork on the Le Riche Reserve for several months, your review convinced me to open one up for our son’s 30th B-Day this weekend, or should I more accurately say, reinforced my decision to do that. Glad you enjoyed the wine, the GO experience reminds me of an old Elton John song from the classic record, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” I believe the song was titled, “Dirty Little Girl,” in it John sings,
    “You’ve got to clean the oyster to find the pearl,” many times it kind of feels that way at GO. The hunt is always interesting with the sleuthing/searching involved, and the reward can be big…nothing like paying $4 for a $50 bottle! Will let you know on the Emigre, sounds like a good 2nd bottle option for the weekend,hmm.

    1. permiesworld Post author

      I was looking online to see if anyone even sold this wine any more (liked it that much). K&L have the 2001 Cabernet but not the reserve (for $23), so it was definitely a steal.

      The Emigre is a completely different style than the Le Riche…(I’d consider the Le Riche to be more like something someone would enjoy in front of a fire on a relaxing evening, just enjoying the taste….the Emigre is spicier, with more alcohol heat and involves itself more in the tasting…it would balance great with food too, no question but not sure how well they’d complement one another.)


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