Friday, April 02, 2010

Ruchè: Two Expressions From Montalbera

Ruchè is one of Piemonte's so-called lesser red wines, though once you have tasted it you never forget it: It is extraordinarily aromatic, rivaling the intensity of Brachetto on the nose, but dry. And therefore an absolute delight to sniff and swish in the glass. I will likely taste though Ruchè at Vinitaly this year -- there aren't that many producers -- and will write up a more detailed article when I get home. But Montalbera, an estate in Castagnole Monferrato, sent me their latest vintage, and it is quite pleasant. They make two versions.

Montalbera La Tradizione Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato DOCG 2008
Pale ruby with white rim. The bouquet is powerful, with intense sugary raspberry fruit shot through with greenish sandalwood and haunting spice, and flowers, lots of purple and red flowers. Beautifully, intense, aromatic wine, and if you like this sort of rich fresh harmonious aromatic intensity it will impress you. On the palate it's fairly light, and dry, with rich floral laced berry fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins and by an underlying savory bitterness that provides counterpoint, and flow into a clean fresh finish with aromas that echo those of the nose. Very pleasant, though particular; if you like this kind of wine you will like it very much. If you of not you won't, and though this is an obvious comment, unless you are absolutely certain you don't I would give it a try. Because it is nice, and will work very well far from the table too.

Montalbera L'Accento di Castagnole Monferrato DOCG 2008
The bottle is a little heavier than that of La Tradione, and the wine is slightly darker, though still pale ruby. The bouquet is powerful, but not quite as explosive nor as floral as La Tradizione's; it displays cherry and raspberry fruit laced with sandalwood and some greenish accents as well. Pleasant to sniff and quite harmonious, and as it opens some berry fruit/raspberry acidity also emerges, providing direction and counterpoint to the sweetness that is present. On the palate it's medium bodied and quite rich, with powerful slightly bitter berry fruit supported by deft cherry acidity and tannins that have a rather languid feel to them, and flow into a clean rather bitter berry fruit finish. It' a little fuller and has slightly more depth than the Tradizionale, but is not quite as bright. A slightly different interpretation, but equally interesting. As with La Tradizionale, it's a wine that will work well by the glass with friends. And since it has a little more bite to it, I would consider it with cheeses and cheese based dishes, for example a simple, elegant risotto, and perhaps simple grilled meats that aren't too fatty.
2 stars

Want to know more about Montalbera, which is one of the older wineries in Castagnole Monferrato? Their site.

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