The Ruchè grape ripens quite early in the first ten days of September. It accumulates good levels of sugars, and in spite of its generally low acidity, maintains a healthy level of malic acid, which gives the wine crispness. The grape’s chief characteristic is its rich concentration of polyphenols expressed mainly as tannins, which build good structure into the wine.
Depending on the growing season, controlling the pulping can effect tannin extraction in a selective way that yields a balanced wine. Extraction data show that at the moment of picking when grapes are at a significant stage of ripeness, the notable tannin content in seeds means that the largest proportion of the tannins is in fact in the seeds, which because they are quite ripe, permits lengthy pulping for maximum extraction.
Terpenes make Ruchè a semi-aromatic grape, and they express themselves in our Opera Prima as impressions of spice, geranium leaf, rose petals and ripe fruit. The grape is originally from the hills of Castagnole Monferrato to the northeast of Asti. Although specific documentation on this variety is lacking, it displays morphological characteristics so distinctive as to set it apart from the other varieties of the area.
Tradition says the grape has been present since ancient times in the area and wines made from it were consumed locally in commemorative events. Don Giacomo Cauda, the parish priest of the town who died in 2008, was the one who recovered this indigenous
grape, personally overseeing its cultivation and vinification into a mono-varietal wine.
His efforts led other grapegrowers to also put their faith in Ruchè, which was rewarded
when it received formal DOC status. The first description of the grape did not come until 1987 in conjunction with the official application for DOC status. It is a wine whose history has yet to be told, but one with sensory characteristics that are quite unusual compared to the other wines of Piedmont.
Piedmontese wine historian Enza Cavallero describes the character of the wine as “magical and mysterious, but unforgettable”.