Ruchè, the best kept secret of Piedmont

Its history, debated to this day, can only be traced via oral tradition; there are no documentary evidence about this variety. Somebody believes Ruche’ was brought to Piedmont by French nobles from Burgundy (and actually Piedmont was part of France for a long time), but the most widely spread theory is that Ruchè would have developed indigenously in the hills northwest of Asti.

Castagnole Monferrato and Scurzolengo are the two main municipalities where Ruche’ is believed to be from and where is produced today. We are talking about a very small production:  only 110 hectares, 7 villages and 23 producers are part of the recently nominated DOCG area (since 2010). Till 20 years ago Ruche’ was considered a blending variety, added to Barbera or Grignolino, to make wines more perfumed.

What is in fact peculiar of this variety is the aromaticness: Ruche’ is one of the rare red aromatic varieties, it shows primary aromas of delicate flowers (rose, iris, lavender), red fruits and spices (nutmeg, coriander, black pepper). I am a big fan of Ruche’ wines: I find them to be feminine, but with character, delicate but peppery, never obvious.

When I visited Cantina Sant’Agata thanks to the owner Franco Cavallero, I had the chance to see the beautiful natural amphitheater on limestone chalky soil where its vineyards are located in Scurzolengo (small village famous for the Ruche’ but since 2013 for being the place where Francesco Bergoglio’s family was from – aka the Pope’s family). And this is not the only bond between the Church and Ruche’. Until the late 70’s Ruche’ was mostly produced as a sweet wine, it was a priest, Don Giacomo Cauda, parish of Castagnole Monferrato, who invented the dry version of this wine. “Il Ruche’ del Parroco” (the Parish Ruche’”) was the first dry Ruche’ and in some years this became the new traditional way of producing Ruche’. Don Cauda unfortunately died in 2008, two years before Ruche’ obtained the DOCG appellation status.

Thought this is still a less known variety, lately Ruche’ has gained more interest and raised its reputation: Montalbera winery of Castagnole Monferrato was awarded with Tre Bicchieri, the top rating for wines of the Gambero Rosso wines guide. It has been the first time ever a Ruche’ obtained such a prestigious prize. I am happy about it, I hope this will encourage local producers to don’t give up with this marvellous and mysterious variety. As for my readers and friends all over the world : look for Ruche’ in wine shops, in restaurant lists, ask for it, it is absolutely worthy!! Cin Cin!



  • It is always fascinating when a priest/monk is involved in a wine’s history. I call it an obvious divine intervention. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Articoli recenti

  • Trentino: the first wine region with an official sustainability annual report

    The Trentino wine consortium is the first Italian regional territorial organization to adopt an official annual sustainability report. 5,667 Trentino grape-producing wineries have followed this challenging path
  • |

    The natural rhythm of beauty: telling about living materials, such as wine, or… wood

    I went in person to visit that triangle of hills and vineyards on the border with Slovenia to observe, to know, to smell, to touch in the true sense of the word the materials, the people, the inspiration of these Italian artisans. The result was this story that I decided to publish on this blog as well, because wood and wine have in common the fact that they are living materials and continue to breathe, adapt and change throughout the process of transformation
  • |

    Wine competitions, medals and numbers: do they take away the pleasure of discovery?

    In fact, I believe a good part of the pleasure for a wine lover is in the phase of research, discovery, investigation. Being curious about a new grape, looking for its history, discovering the producers who keep it alive, reading about their business and then, after this journey, finally buying and tasting that wine, will be an immense joy, a cubic joy compared to the bottle rushed from the shelf because it had one hundred stamps on the label and therefore "it must be good". 
Don't miss a drop of Italian wine

* The compilation of the above form does not storage any data entered, the storage and use of the data will take place only after explicit confirmation contained in the email that will be sent after pressing the "subscribe" button

Back to To

2021 @ Laura Donadoni - All rights reserved / design