Le Riche Wines is situated on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, in close proximity to the historic town of Stellenbosch. The winery was designed to replicate our previous winery in Jonkershoek, which was built in 1911. With old style open top concrete fermentation tanks mixed with a modern minimum intervention wine making approach, the winery provides a platform to create ultra premium red wines in a classic South African style. Production is 8000—6 cases a year, with the Reserve range consisting of only about 1000 cases. The wines are rare, but worth sourcing.
Le Riche Wines was founded by Etienne le Riche in 1996 and is now run as a family concern. Coming from an illustrious career in the South African wine industry, Etienne decided to create a winery where he could express the cultivar he had grown to love and respect, Cabernet Sauvignon. The approach was simple, to illustrate the nuances of Stellenbosch Cabernets as best possible. Preferring not to be inhibited by estate classification, he chose to select grapes from the best possible terroirs Stellenbosch had to offer. The resulting wines have shown great elegance and class, consistently proving to be of superb quality and maturation potential.
Etienne is one of the founder members of the Cape Winemakers Guild (CWG). Every year he produces a unique, single vineyard wine, Le Riche CWG Auction Reserve, made especially for the Guild Auction. More information on this can be obtained by visiting www.capewinemakersguild.com
The grapes are selected from top growers in Stellenbosch. A combination of soil, climate, clones and vine age determine the vineyard blocks selected. With meticulous viticulture and a focus on canopy microclimate and soil health, we try to ensure that each vineyard can express itself to its full extent. Vineyard blocks are vinified separately to determine their quality and style, ensuring that their unique character is understood and shown.
Within Stellenbosch, the majority of the fruit comes from two soil types – decomposed granite soils higher on the mountain slopes and sandy gravel on the valley floor. Most of our vineyards are close to the ocean, providing a cooling breeze in the afternoon during the hot summer months. These vineyards are also on sandy gravel soils that warm up fast during budding and provide us with earlier ripening grapes. The decomposed granite soils are mainly higher on the mountain slopes where the altitude helps to cool the vineyards. These soils bud and ripen later in the season. Other soils include decomposed shale and the warmer slopes of the Bottelary Hills.
Deciding when to harvest is done with meticulous visual selection, tasting and analysis. Typical fruit flavours, tannin structure and uniform ripeness are some of the major parameters for selection. The fruit is harvested by hand and transported to the cellar in small lug-boxes and weighed. Stringent bunch selection takes place before de-stemming and crushing.
The winemaking approach is traditionally simplistic, yet innovative. The basic vinification involves the use of open top fermenters and manual punch downs under controlled fermentation temperatures. The berries are sorted after de-stemming and then go to open, lined concrete fermenters where inoculation with yeast takes place. Fermentation on the skins follows with regular manual punch-downs to ensure maximum colour, tannin and flavour extraction.
The Cabernet Reserve undergoes an extended period of maceration. The tanks are sealed with a lid for an additional period before pressing. This improves the tannin quality, balance and extract of the wine. After fermentation the wine is pressed, and both free run and selected press juice go to French oak barrels for the secondary, malolactic fermentation. After barrel maturation for 18 to 24 months, the wine is bottled and hand-labelled as such. Throughout the process there is no compromise on quality.