The Red Prince of Monferrato
The 2010 vintage also saw the award of D.O.C.G. status - yet further recognition of the impressive quality of this native red. Although relatively obscure, and considered one of the "minor" Piedmontese D.O.C.G. wines, Ruché Castagnole Monferrato is made with grapes from the vine of the same name. The origin and name of this particular cultivation are unknown. The designation of origin was obtained as late as 1987 for the towns of Castagnole Monferrato, Grana, Montemagno, Portacomaro, Refrancore, and Scurzolengo Viarigi, all in the province of Asti and bordering each other. This is a small area of excellence where the know-how of the vinedressers is blended with a love for life, a rapport with the land and innovative enological research. Each of the seven Ruché towns has a splendid attraction to flaunt, maybe a castle, a church, a unique outlying village. And there are certainly many fine restaurants and excellent wineries here from which this much-loved native wine gushes.
The product specifications were completely overhauled in 2001 and contemplate that Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato D.O.C.G. should be produced with at least 90% Ruché grapes, while the remaining 10% can be Barbera and/or Brachetto grapes, at the discretion of each individual producer.
The lack of certified bibliographic attestations and the vagueness of verbal testimonies about the origin of the vine have laid a shroud of mystery over this wine, making it very attractive for centuries. The etymology of the vine is uncertain because the toponymy does not include, not even from ancient times, a site to which the name Ruché is clearly traceable. Consequently there are many hypotheses about the origin of the name. One of these is that it comes from San Rocco, a community of monks devoted to the saint who introduced its cultivation in that area; however there are those who associate the name with roncet, a degenerative infection that in past eras attacked vines in the area but to which Ruché was particularly resistant and its hardiness kept it alive. Another argument is that the name derives from the Piedmontese word "roche", referring to a vine grown in the areas protected by the Monferrato Hills. Recent studies and meticulous analysis of the vine and its features would seem to show that Ruché derives from the ancient vines of Haute-Savoie. Perhaps this is the most accepted version, but there is still nothing definite. The mystery of Ruché therefore still remains unsolved, while the only certainty seems to be the feelings that always come with every sip. This magical wine owes its first stirrings of esteem among aficionados to two characters from Castagnole Monferrato. Firstly, the parish priest Don Giacomo Cauda in the late 1970s devoted himself with great enthusiasm to the production of Ruché. The then Mayor Lydia White - former secretary of the School of Agriculture of Asti - played a key role in her commitment to obtaining the "Designation of Origin" which finally arrived in 1987.
In 1964 when Don Cauda arrived in Castagnole Monferrato, he took charge of the parish estate, which included a small plot of land under vine. Those vines with red berries immediately aroused the interest and excitement of the young priest, who rolled up his sleeves and made it popular again. The vinification of those red grape clusters gave joy and satisfaction to Don Cauda. He believed they were a "gift from God", and this same expression has been used more than once in descriptions of the great peculiarities of Ruché. "It has perfect body and a balance of aromas, flavors and bouquet that are unique. Savored in moderation, it frees the spirit and opens the mind...
Thus Ruché Castagnole Monferrato was born.
Long ago the local people used to consider Ruché a "wine for celebrations", an alternative to everyday wines. Over time it acquired an aura of legend. This nectar in the collective imagination became the wine that accompanied the Astigiani troops in the Crusades, contributing to the victory of the Longobards over the Franks in the vicinity of Refrancore.
The charm and mystery of this wine are real. Its origins are unknown to most people. And its taste is so special and unique that it clearly stands out from all the other classic Piedmontese wines, making it a true gem of viticulture in this region, described by many connoisseurs as "the other face of Piedmont
A wine of simple birth that in its own simple way awakens a great deal more sensations than the more blazoned wines. This is because the passion that goes into each stage of its vinification is still unrivaled to this day.