From: Piemonte, Italy
Taste: A wild nose redolent of violet, rose, iris, jasmine, cardamom, white pepper, and perhaps most surprisingly for a red wine, lychee. On the palate, fresh wild berries, red cherry, and pomegranate abound. Perfectly ripened fruit, robust acidity, and moderate tannins enable this grape’s singular, beguiling aromatics to shine.
Pairing: Charcuterie and medium-aged cheeses as well as the classic Piedmontese dish called bagna càuda. This wine also pairs brilliantly with mild Indian cuisine, curry dishes, barbequed meats, and burgers. You could also branch out with pairings that incorporate versatile, well-loved ingredients like ginger, brown sugar, and sesame— these ingredients will highlight both the fruit and spice element of Ruché extremely well. Which brings us to today’s wine pairing below!
Recipe from “Around the World Cookbook: Delicious Dishes From Across the Globe”
Adapted by Margaux Laskey
Background, this wine: Castagnole Monferrato holds the illustrious honor of being the birthplace of Ruché. This grape is a unique red variety found primarily in the rolling hills northwest of the town of Asti, where only seven villages hold the distinction of producing wines under the DOCG. Ampelographers have discovered that Ruché is, in fact, the genetic offspring of the red grape Croatina and the now extinct white grape Malvasia Aromatica di Parma, also known as Malvasia Odorosissima and often compared to Moscato Bianco.
Vineyard: Estate fruit from vineyards situated at 250 meters above sea level. 40% of this fruit comes from Majole, a legendary, high-density vineyard planted to Ruché in 1975 with southwest exposure; meanwhile, the remaining 60% comes from Santa Eufemia, another high-density parcel planted in 1992 with eastern exposure. Calcareous-red clay soils. 5,000 vines per hectare trained in the guyot style. Only 70 quintals per hectare harvested.
Vinification: Hand-harvested fruit is destemmed and then crushed by basket press into stainless-steel tanks, where it remains in contact with the skins for 10 days while native fermentation occurs. Following spontaneous malolactic fermentation, the wine rests in cement vessels for 3 months and then an additional 4 months in bottle prior to release.
The winery. The singular wines of La Miraja have heretofore been impossible to find in the United States. The estate is nestled within the original castle of Castagnole Monferrato, constructed in the 11th century and retrofitted to serve as a cellar in the 1400s. In this armory-turned-cellar, Eugenio Gatti turns out Barbera d’Asti, Grignolino, and his fabled Ruché. A seventh-generation viticulturist, Eugenio personally tends to the oldest vineyard of Ruché in Castagnole Monferrato, the original birthplace of Ruché. It is here that Eugenio Gatti devotes his life’s work to producing a minuscule amount of wines per year.
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