Mike Veseth è capo redattore di The Wine Economist e autore di molti libri, tra cui Wine Wars (2011), Extreme Wine (2013) Money, Taste & Wine: It’s Complicated (2015) e Around the World in Eighty Wines (2017). Mike è professore emerito di Economia politica internazionale presso l’Università di Puget Sound.
Rediscovering Ruchè, One of Italy’s “Invisible” Wines
The coronavirus pandemic has paused The Wine Economist’s usual travel and speaking schedule and while I don’t miss the chaos of international air travel I do miss the opportunity to meet interesting new people and the chance to discover wines made from indigenous grape varieties that often don’t get the attention they deserve.
At this time last year, for example, we were visiting Sardinia and Friuli, two regions of Italy that are especially known for their indigenous wine grapes. Some of these wines are pretty readily available here in the U.S. — Cannonou di Sardegna is a good example. You can find good examples if you look around at bit. But others are much too local to get much outside distribution — you sometimes need to go to the source to try them. Vermentino di Gallura and Carignano del Sulcis are examples, also from Sardinia, of wonderful wines that you may not easily find.
Discovering Invisible Wines
These intensely local wines are a special treat and I wrote about them in a chapter called “Invisible Wines” in my book Extreme Wine. I cited three wines from Italy — Pignoletto from the vineyards around Bologna, Lacrima di Morro d”Alba from Marche, and Ruchè di Castagnolo Monferrato in Piemonte.
As I wrote on The Wine Economist in 2011, we discovered Ruchè (prndounced ROO-kay) by accident. We were attending the annual regional culinary fair in Moncalvo, a hill town half an hour north of Asti. Thirteen “pro loco” civic groups from throughout the region set up food and wine booths in the central square and sold their distinctly local wares to an enthusiastic luncheon crowd. As I reported then,
“I had never heard of Ruchè and honestly didn’t know what it might be until I happened upon the stand of the Castagnole Monferrato group. They were cooking with Ruchè , marinating fruit in Ruchè and selling it by the glass — they were obviously very proud of their local wine. I had to try it and it was great. Suddenly I saw Ruchè everywhere (a common experience with a new discovery) and enjoyed a bottle at dinner in Asti that night. “Like Nebbiolo,” Jancis Robinson writes, “the wine is headily scented and its tannins imbue it with an almost bitter aftertaste.” Mappa by ©quattrocalici2018 “I had never heard of Ruchè and honestly didn’t know what it might be until I happened upon the stand of the Castagnole Monferrato group. They were cooking with Ruchè , marinating fruit in Ruchè and selling it by the glass — they were obviously very proud of their local wine. I had to try it and it was great. Suddenly I saw Ruchè everywhere (a common experience with a new discovery) and enjoyed a bottle at dinner in Asti that night. “Like Nebbiolo,” Jancis Robinson writes, “the wine is headily scented and its tannins imbue it with an almost bitter aftertaste.”
Sue and I were excited to re-live our Ruchè discovery when we were contacted by Tenuta Montemagno and offered the opportunity to taste their two Ruchè wines, Nobilis and Invictus. Sue prepared a special meal (see note below) and we pulled the corks. The Nobilis brought back many memories. A juicy, light bodied red wine, it had the distinctive aroma of roses and the mix of red fruit and warm spices on the palate. It was great with Sue’s signature veal meatballs. And then came Invictus, made from riper grapes, vinified dry (2g/l compared to 1 g/l for Nobilis) with a bit more alcohol (15.5% versus 15%). A fuller wine, Invictus is what I call a philosopher’s wine — something you might want to sit with for a while so you can appreciate how it develops in the glass. Recognizably Ruchè, but a different experience. Fascinating. Memorable.
No one comes to The Wine Economist for tasting notes, but here is a video note that captures some of what we found special about these wines. Watch closely and you will see that this seasoned reviewer is surprised (at one point nearly at a loss for words) at what’s in his glass and is keen to learn more. That’s Ruchè.
Tenuta Montemagno is devoted to the tradition of these wines in addition to their Grignolino, Barbera D’Asti, and Barolo reds. The white wines include Sauvignon and Timorasso, another indigenous grape variety that I need to learn more about the next time we are in the neighborhood. But maybe I won’t have to wait that long. The winery is working to get its products into wider distribution in the U.S. market and I hope they succeed so that more people can discover their “invisible wine.” Tenuta Montemagno Ruché tasting […] L’articolo continua Qui è possibile leggere l’articolo originale sul portale The Wine Economist.