Several months ago I received some information about one of Azienda Agricola Luca Ferraris’ Ruchè wines. Since I had never heard of this grape, I went to my favorite reference on Italian grapes, Ian D’Agata’s Native Wine Grapes of Italy. I learned that this grape is native to Piedmont and grown only in the area northwest of the city of Asti. Should you find yourself there and eat in a local trattoria, you might well be served this type of wine as the house red wine.
Armed with this new knowledge, I began to research the Luca Ferraris winery and found a very interesting story. Owner Luca Ferraris’ great grandfather, Luigi, traveled from Piedmont to California during the gold rush in the late 1800s and managed to strike it rich. He sent back his good fortune to his wife who had remained in Piedmont and together with Luca’s grandfather, Martino, she bought an agricultural plot that became the basis for the winery. Luigi returned and the family began producing Ruchè wines. Today the successor, Azienda Agricola Luca Ferraris, consists of the original vineyard in Castagnole Monferrato and additional acquisitions including Vigna Del Parroco in Castagnole Monferrato. The winery produces 250,000 bottles/ year of Ruchè and other local grapes.
Azienda Agricola Luca Ferraris was kind enough to send me samples of their Ruchè wines to taste, and, as usual, this occurred along with meals prepared by my excellent chef/cook wife.
Our first wine was a 2019 CLÀSIC Ruchè Di Castagnole Monferrato DOCG, a 15% alcohol, 100% Ruchè grape offering. The grapes were selected from various estate vineyards that were 8-12 years old. Alcoholic Fermentation was in stainless steel tanks for 10-15 days followed by malolactic fermentation in 54hl oak tini. Aging was for 6-9 months in large oak barrels plus three months in the bottle. The resultant CLÀSIC was ruby red in color with a pleasant fruit nose. We tasted this with fried melanzana (eggplant) plus rigatoni pasta Norma and Italian sausage. The CLÀSIC finished very smooth and medium long. It was an excellent accompaniment to the meal and I rated this medium red wine a 90/91.The second wine was a 2018 VIGNA DEL PARROCO DOCG, a 15% alcohol, 100% Ruchè grape offering. Named for the pastor of the Church of Castagnole Monferrato, Don Giacomo Cauda, who in 1964 in this small vineyard created a wine that was considered the purest form of Ruchè, this wine was the inspiration for all of the modern Ruchè wines. The vines are 56 years old and became part of the Ferraris winery in 2016. Alcoholic fermentation of these grapes was in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation was 80% in stainless steel tanks and 20% in oak tonneaux. Aging was 20% in oak tonneaux for 6-9 months plus six months in the bottle. We tasted this with beef filets accompanied with oven roasted potatoes, stuffed zucchini and sauteed carciofi (artichokes). The VIGNA DEL PARROCO was also ruby in color with a slight fruit nose. It started in mid palate and finished medium long and very smooth. I rated this very nice wine a 92.
Our final wine was a 2016 OPERA PRIMA DOCG, a 15.5% alcohol, 100% Ruchè grape selection. Made from 20 year old vines from the Bricco della Gioia vineyard, the OPERA PRIMA had its alcoholic fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for 20-25 days while remaining in contact with the skins. Malolactic fermentation was in stainless steel tanks. The wine was aged in French oak tonneaux for 24 months followed by 12 months in the bottle. The resulting wine was a deep ruby color with a strong and complex nose. We tasted this with beef steaks served with linguini in cacio e pepe sauce and cauliflower and broccoli in a cream sauce. The OPERA PRIMA finished very long and very smooth with a pleasant tannic taste. I loved this elegant wine and rated it a 93/94. I believe that it will even improve with further aging.
I am now a fan of the Ruchè grape. My thanks go to the family owned Luca Ferraris winery for providing me bottles of their excellent wines. They are imported into the USA by Misa Imports Inc. If you see these anywhere, I recommend that you try them. You will not be disappointed.