Le Riche Wines was founded by Etienne Le Riche in 1996 after more than 20 years at prominent Stellenbosch property Rustenberg. The maiden 1997 vintage of his Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was rated 5 Stars in the 1999 edition of Platter’s and the wine has enjoyed cult status ever since.
Over the weekend the 1998 which was remarkable for its pure, clean and supremely concentrated fruit. I’ve always considered Le Riche as very much classically orientated in his approach but this wine was surprisingly modern, fantastic fruit expression but the tannins not nearly as firm as might have been expected. Impossible not to be impressed by it however and my score was 17/20.
According to the Le Riche website, the 1998 was exclusively from Firgrove grapes (whereas the famed 1997 included both Jonkershoek and Firgrove) and was harvested on the extraordinarily early date of 11 February. In terms of treatment in barrel, the wine was matured for 16 months in French oak, 60% new. Interesting to note that while the 1997 had an abv of 12.75% and the 1998 13.32%, the recently released 2009 clocks in at 14.5%.