Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato is the lone wine appellation highlighting Ruchè, an ancient and exceedingly rare, aromatic red grape variety found in a small section of the rolling Monferrato hills, northeast of the city of Asti. Elevated to DOCG status in 2010, the appellation covers just seven communes: Grans, Montemagno, Portacomaro, Refrancore, Scurzolengo, Viarigi and Castagnole Monferrato, which gives the DOCG its name. Its vineyards range from 400-800 feet in altitude; soils are predominantly the limestone-clay calcareous tufa celebrated throughout the region.
Ruchè has been planted in the Monferrato hills for centuries, but by the early 1970s it was nearing commercial extinction. Local legend credits the stirrings of its recovery to a parish priest, Don Giacomo Cauda, who was gifted ten rows of Ruchè vines and was enamored with the resulting wine. In 2000, there were just 46 hectares planted, but today that number has more than doubled. Occasionally labeled "Rouchet," Ruchè is a strikingly aromatic wine, with notes of rose petal, violet, black cherry and bitter almond. It boasts a classic Piemontese structure, its firm tannins reminiscent of Nebbiolo. At its best, Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato can be aged well up to twelve years, taking on gentle spice and an understated elegance. It pairs well with game, well-seasoned pork and classic Piemontese dishes including Agnolotti del Plin and Veal Brasato.
DOCG rules specify that up to 10% of Barbera or Brachetto may be used in its production. Just over 50,000 cases are produced annually.
Strikingly aromatic, with notes of rose petal, violet, black cherry and bitter almond, Casa Brina Ruchè di Castagnole Monferratto boasts a classic Piemontese structure and complexity, its firm tannins reminiscent of Nebbiolo (at a fraction of the price). With air, it takes on a gentle spice and rustic elegance. Approachable now, it should age well for more than a decade. Full details