An unforgettable wine with mysterious origins

Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato DOCG is a wine with an unmistakable character. It has pleasant, floral aromas of rose and violet, fruity notes of apricot, and spices that emerge as it ages, all of which combine to make the wine immediately recognizable in the glass.

The origins of this fascinating variety are shrouded in mystery, as is the etymology of its name

Genesis

One hypothesis for the origins of Ruchè’s name is that it derives from “San Rocco,” a community of monks devoted to Saint Roch who introduced its cultivation in the zone. Others claim that the name derives from the Piedmontese word “roche” , meaning a vineyard cultivated in the rocky areas of Monferrato. The most likely hypothesis is that Ruchè comes from ancient vineyards of Haute-Savoy, an area located in the Rhône-Alpes region of eastern France. But what is certain is that this variety has found its home and expression of highest quality in the Monferrato.

Don Giacomo Cauda and the years of rebirth

he rebirth of Ruchè happened in the 1970s thanks to the efforts of a learned parish priest, Don Giacomo Cauda. He is attributed with the rediscovery of this variety that once was at risk of extinction. When Don Cauda arrived in Castagnole Monferrato at the end of the 1970s, he received 10 rows of grapevines as a “parish benefit”…and thus the story began.

New grapevines

Struck by the characteristics of the variety, Don Cauda became enamored with Ruchè’s qualities that were expressed even in the grape yet hanging on the vine. He wrote of the wine:

“t has a perfect body and a balance of aromas, flavors, and unique bouquet. Tasted in moderation, it liberates the spirit and opens the mind…”

Determined to bring it back into production, Don Cauda began planting this variety and encouraging vine growers to do the same. Ruchè’s history as we know it today began here. In 1987, it obtained the DOC certification, and DOCG in 2010. Today, Ruchè is known and appreciated throughout Italy and the world for its unique, alluring characteristics that have their origins in the extraordinary terroir called the Monferrato.

Tracing Ruchè’s genes

Montalbera has always believed in the uniqueness of Ruchè.

For this reason, the winery chose to invest in research that traces the DNA of this mysterious variety, which is often grouped together with other varieties that are, in fact, quite distant in terroir and expression.

The object of the research (carried out by the Bioaesis laboratory of Ancona) is to use the grape’s DNA as an invisible “barcode” in order to determine the genetic traceability of the variety.

All analyses confirm that Ruchè possesses distinctive genetic characteristics that are different from other grape varieties present in databases.

The only variety that comes close to Ruchè is Pinot Nero, which has similar peaks in its DNA.

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The identity of Ruchè has therefore been traced and analyzed, undoubtedly placing the variety in the panorama of other native vines that make Italian viticulture great.

Characteristics

Ruchè is a red grape variety with medium vegetative vigor and good production. The leaf is average – small, three lobed, at rare times five lobed, light green and smooth. The grape bunch grows in a cylindrical form – pyramidal, elongated, compact, and composed of medium-sized grapes that are slightly oval and violet in color. Its skin is consistent and very waxy. It does not suffer from colatura (poor fruit set at flowering), and it ripens at the end of September or, at the latest, in the beginning of October. It ripens notably faster than other typical varieties of the area, yet in its last stages, finishes at a much slower pace.

Environmental and agricultural needs

In its area of production, Ruchè adapts well to terrain composed of different types of soil. However, it favors limestone-clay soils. When grown in this terrain, it produces wines with more intense and complex aromas. It grows best in high- to very high-level density trellising (spurred cordon and Guyot). The rootstocks most commonly used in this zone are SO4, Cober, and 1103.

Susceptibility to disease and strain

Ruchè has a high resistance to cold winters and springs, medium tolerance for powdery mildew, downy mildew, and rotting (mariumo acido and botritis Cinerea), and excellent resistance to Flavescence dorée.

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