Ruchè di Castagnole di Monferrato, by Massimo Marengo, Piedmont, Italy

Yesterday evening, I opened the bottle of 2010 Ruchè di Castagnole di Monferrato I brought from my trip to Piedmont. It was a product from Massimo Marengo’s estate, which traces its tradition back to the year 1535. Considering that this variety is allegedly best after a couple of years in a cellar, my 2010 one was great. Well, I also cannot wait anyway as there is no cellar in my house, at least none suitable for wine aging.

In Piedmont, I had a bottle of Luca Ferraris’ Ruchè ‘Bric d-Bianc’. I prepared for my Italian friends a dinner consisted of some traditional Polish and Brazilian dishes. They brought me this wine and it actually was a love at first sip. After that, I was looking for the same wine in the whole Cuneo but I found only the Marengo’s one. For sure, I couldn’t call the surprise unpleasant. Ferraris’ red was ‘sweeter’, fruitier, resembling in its aroma blackberries and meadows (a hay-ish note?). Marengo’s Ruchè has this blackberry, or maybe also raspberry, note too, but there is also something herbal in it: Exactly as some herb or green teas, it leaves on you tongue a slightly tingling aftertaste. Yes, it is ‘sweetish’ too, but it is rather the sweetness of some vegetables not fruits. And it is mellow, ‘round’. The ruby color has both orange and violet gleam, like garnet or pomegranate.

Still, too many details in a taste description don’t make much sense. I don’t believe that gustatory and olfactory perception of every single person will be the same. So, better try it yourself and have your fun discovering tastes and smells.

To say more about the variety itself, it is considered an autochthon cépage of Piedmont, but its roots are sometimes seen in Burgundy. Ruchè di Castagnole di Monferrato enjoys the DOCG status since 2010 (DOC since 1987). To my astonishment, I didn’t find any information about this wine in ‘The World Atlas of Wine’ by two British wine gurus: Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson. Maybe they didn’t find it worth of mentioning or maybe they just don’t know this wine. Be that as it may, I enjoyed this red a lot and wanted to bring it to your attention. It is another of those local Italian varieties, which may be not so elegant – as we can be used to it – but beautiful by its originality and simple and joyful aromas. Other fascinating ‘simple’ wines are for me Cagnina di Romagna or the real Fragolino. They might be too much bound to the local culture and people to be served in fancy restaurants, but for me they mean long evenings with friends as well as smells and tastes from my childhood. I know, I know, it sounds a little bit sappy, but isn’t it what people love: To find somewhere else, what they already know and associate with positive feelings?

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