Montalbera ‘La Tradizione’
Castagnole Monferrato, Piedmont 2017
The Morando family began to expand their property in the 1980’s: the Monferrato and the Langhe appellations, mostly planted to Ruché . Nowadays, they’re easily one of the most influential producers in the future of this under-appreciated grape variety. Many point to their slightly more modern bottling that sees some oak, of course, as their most important wine, but this is ‘La Tradizione’ and recognized several times with a Tre Bicchieri award from Gambero Rosso. Like with the small handful of other Ruché producers, the love for life is omnipresent and obvious, and why wouldn’t it be? This grape seems to have that effect on people.
Ruché is another one of those grapes that was on the path towards extinction, being used mostly for sweet wine production and muscled out by Barbera in the this region. It has almost no documentation as to how long it’s been in Piedmont or even how it got there, but most credit a local priest for selecting the best clone and helping unlock its potential. It has similar fabulous ability to retain acidity in maturation like Barbera can, but is a much more resilient grape with a more distinctive character. So where to plant this in California? In some slightly cooler sites this should make a real show-stopper of a wine (provided they also resist the urge to hit it with new oak.) A clean Ruché is a good Ruché.