WATCH: Spend Some Time with Crivelli's Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato
Ruchè is a grape with a mysterious past. It's grown in Piedmont without Nebbiolo’s fanfare, or even the popularity of Dolcetto or Barbera. The Italians believe its origin to be on the hillsides of Piedmont, but a French faction claim it as their own, believing Burgundy to be its ancestral home. Surprisingly, DNA testing has shown no relation to other Piedmont grapes.
It was grown and consumed mostly in obscurity until 2010, when the Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato DOC was established exclusively for these light, fresh and beautifully perfumed red wines. We're frankly flabbergasted that it took so long for such a singular variety to be appreciated!
Like Nebbiolo, Ruchè produces light, often pale wines. Where Nebbiolo's tannins can be firm and unyielding, Ruchè's are supple and soft. The classic Nebbiolo aromas of rose petals are supplanted by heady orange blossom, ginger and candied strawberry. There are just over 100 hectares planted to Ruchè, spread out almost entirely across just 7 villages.
This DOC wouldn't exist were it not for its former president and champion, Marco Crivelli, a third-generation winemaker in Castagnole. Marco's vines are planted on the area's typical sand and limestone soils, which he believes are the key to his ability to balance his Ruchè's fine tannins, powerful fragrance, and lush fruit. Planted on the village's highest peak, il Montio, Marco calls this parcel the 'Cannubi of Monferrato' for the quality of its soils and the grapes grown there.
Chances are you need a little bit more Ruchè in your life. And this should be the one: click below and you can sample one of Piedmont's fascinating obscurities made by its finest producer… and taste a little bit of mystery, too.
A ruby red wine with fascinating, heady aromas of stem ginger, orange blossom, peach and apricot confit and ripe cherry; on the palate it is velvety and plush, and its tannins are soft, although definitely present. A rare aromatic red wine that is more than worth its salt, this is an excellent foil for heartier dishes or a simple cheese plate.