RUCHE' di Castagnole Monferrato "Il Re" 2003 - Ferraris & Gatto
- Made from the rare Ruchè grape which enjoys a D.O.C. only in the small town of Castagnole Monferrato in Piemonte (near Asti).
Francesco Gatto, son of Mario Gatto, actually made this wine and has since separated (because of a woman of course) from partner Luca Ferraris who used to handle the commercial side of the business.
These guys used to supply Bonny Doon with his Ruchè called, I believe, La Donna Cannone. That has ended. Francesco told me he got fed up with supplying Randal Graham because he bought at low prices and paid very late which for small wine producers like Gatto (50,000 bottles a year) is not good.
This is Francesco's "Cru" Ruchè. He told me in 2003 yields were half of what they ususally were. So you've got a WEIRD grape (which has a weird perfumey nose and mouth) who's characteristics have been doubly intensified by cutting the yields in half. On top of that he put the wine in new French barriques (WEIRD combination) and added 30% Syrah.
The first two bottles I opened of this wine were just too damn weird, flat, acidless. It didn't seem to come together (sometimes a good sign early on, right?).
Today I opened up a bottle with some not-too-spicy vegetarian Indian food.
15% alcohol, a good amount of sediment on the side of the bottle, I was ready for a repeat freak show.
The wine was damn good, in a freaky way. It has harmonized. The crazy Ruchè perfume nose has integrated well with the new wood, the fruit is immense, the alcohol not too bothersome, and what I thought was a flat wine showed good acidity and tannins. What I thought was a freak wine is now a harmonious freak wine with seemingly good structure. Went great with the Indian food.
I think I may have a winner obscure gem here (although not for everyone).
Side Note: I'm not at all against the 2003 vintage. After all, the 1964 Barbera that Mario Gatto made way back and I tasted was still delicious and it was made in a freaky hot year he told me. The 1988 Grumello Valtellina that Alberto Marsetti gave me and beat two 1990 Barolos in a blind-taste was made in a freakishly hot year (he told me the sugars were off the scale). So I disagree with Robin and I welcome 2003 as a natural vintage variant and a much more welcome one than 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994. After all, California-like heat in Europe produces very different results than in California. Like the 2003 Slovenian merlot I recently had...but that's another story....