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If you’ve encountered the beguiling Ruchè grape variety in your wine journey to date, then you have probably come across the Montalbera winery based in Monferrato, Piedmont. If you haven’t then welcome, we’re excited for you to try this alluring red wine. Around these rolling hills in the Asti province of Piedmont, Enrico’s Morrando’s family cultivate this incredibly rare and unique grape, Ruché. It is only found growing around the eight villages in this tiny area, where most of the agriculture is dedicated to the noble hazelnut (the Nutella factory is a matter of miles away!). Montalbera strive to allow their indigenous grape varieties to speak for themselves, doing little in the winery to mask the raw characteristics of their wonderful grapes.

The Montalbera Ruchè stopped us in our tracks the first time we tried it. Fooled you might be by its relatively light colour, because the nose is a seductive combination of wildflowers, red fruits and peppery spice but the floral notes here are unlike the subtle floral hints that are found in, say, Nebbiolo. There is overwhelming rose, violet and blossom character, paired with macerated cherries and fresh spice. A truly special wine that most people will go their lifetime without tasting, despite its DOCG status, but we’re doing what we can to change that. Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, Grenache and Syrah fans will all find something to love here.

Montalbera has a total of 82 hectares of vines, most of which are dedicated to Ruchè but some portions are also given to local varieties such as Barbera. The Montalbera Barbera d’Asti Solo Acciciao is a pure, fresh and honest example of a grape variety that spends much of its time in the shadows, but this is worth paying attention to!

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