A new vision
Ruchè is grown on the hills of the Lower Asti Monferrato district, in an area of just seven municipalities. Familiar since time immemorial to the local people, it was forgotten for a long time, surviving amongst the rows of Barbera and Grignolino. In the 1960s it returned with all the vigour of its originality, through the efforts of Don Cauda, a local priest, who began growing it in the parish Benefice, even though he received repeated reprimands from the Curia.
Therefore it is one of the rarest wines in the Monferrato area, and it also has an element of mystery. The etymology of its name is uncertain: ruchè is pronounced rukè, with the grave accent but without French-style pronunciation. It may refer to the earliest vines grown near a Benedictine church that no longer exists, dedicated to San Roc (St. Roch). Alternatively, it may be linked to the dialect word “ronchet” referring to the terracing of vines with good exposure to the sun.
Even the origins of this grape variety seem to be cloaked in mystery. It could have been imported by Cistercian monks from Bourgogne in the 12th century.
But there are no doubts about the qualities of Ruchè, now universally recognised following the award of D.O.C. (controlled designation of origin) status in 1987, and even more importantly, D.O.C.G. classification (controlled and guaranteed designation of origin) in 2010.
Its distinctive characteristics, along with the mystery concerning the wine’s origin and reappearance, offer pleasant sensations of fragrance and taste, while also evoking an aura of curiosity that inevitably appeals to the imagination.
Time has given the lands of origin of this grape variety a memory and a latent potential.
Prediomagno wanted to give voice to these opportunities by means of different interpretations of Castagnole Monferrato’s Ruchè. They are not just an expression of respect for the historical and cultural aspects of the place of their origin, but they are also the result of a quest performed to reveal characteristics still awaiting discovery. This is our new vision of Ruchè.
The wine’s distinctive characteristics
Ruchè has a ruby-red colour with reflections tending towards violet, becoming more orange as the wine ages. It is a still wine, full-bodied with light tannins. It has an intense bouquet with floral notes recalling violets and roses, with a light touch of spice, a hint of incense, sometimes in combination with notes of forest fruits. On the palate it is dry, harmonious and pleasantly soft, with good aromatic persistence.
The Pope’s wine
Ruchè’s distinctive characteristics, along with the mystery concerning the wine’s origin and reappearance, offer pleasant sensations of fragrance and taste, while also evoking an aura of curiosity that inevitably appeals to the imagination.
These traits led to the wine being featured in a recent book, “Il vino del Papa. L’avventurosa storia del Ruchè e il mistero della bottiglia scomparsa” (The Pope’s wine. The exciting history of Ruchè and the mystery of the bottle that disappeared), a mystery story written by G. Fasola, I. Lombardo and F. Moscatelli.
But why is it called the Pope’s wine? Because the book, set in 2014, with a plot that interweaves real-life occurrences with hypothetical and invented twists, also describes the history of the Pope’s grandfather, who left Portacomaro in 1922 and went to Argentina, coincidentally drinking a bottle of Ruchè that he had brought from home. Portacomaro is one of the 7 towns producing Ruchè.
Perhaps the Pope had read the book, or perhaps the irresistible call of his roots played a part in the decision: whatever the reason, the fact remains that Pope Francis drank Ruchè with his meal when he returned to visit the land of his ancestors.