Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Cheap Ruche!

 Cheap Ruche...can it be real?

Anyone who has joined us at Piedmont Cycling Resort is aware of our fondness for this wine. Ruche is a rare wine from Piedmont and the production zone is within easy riding distance from the resort. 

There's a sign along the roadside as you enter the town of Castagnole Monferrato (the center of the wine production with only 100 acres devoted to this grape) that says: "If someone offers you a Ruche, it's because they like you."

That's our philosophy and most of the dinners we host at the resort's ristorante feature this wine. The taste is unique and pairs well with the foods of the Monferrato region. One year we had enough groups for enough dinners to exhaust the ristorante's supply! We begged for more but were told the bottling can be done only around the full moon so we'd have to wait!

Eventually the supply was replenished but the joke about how the CycleItalia guests drank up ALL the Ruche persists. We're not ashamed as this wine deserves its cult status. Some of our clients have told us it can even be found in the USA and they delight in sharing something they're pretty sure their friends have never tasted.

We were up in the region last summer and bought up a selection of Ruche wines to bring back to Sicily to go with our Piedmont-themed dinners. Sicilian wines are great but sometimes we want something different, especially to go with the food from the Piedmont region like risotto.

Not too long ago we found some cheap Ruche wine here in Sicily, at LIDL of all places! This store is kind of like the Trader Joe's of Europe you might say - they have products from all over the world as well as specialties from the local region and elsewhere.

They have a regular promotion called "American Week" where we score bottles of real maple syrup (from Canada) as well as some pretty decent peanut butter, all at very reasonable prices.

So when we saw this Bricchidorati Ruche at about 1/2 of what we'd pay in a supermarket in Monferrato (and you can't find it here in Sicily) we bought a case! Today Zio Lorenzo grabbed what he thought was one of them to go with our pranzo of Carlo Zarri's "Enchanting Langa Salad" followed by a vegetable risotto.

The label looked similar but not quite the same, so after lunch down he went to our "wine cellar" to compare. You can see the two bottles in the photos and upon close inspection notice the description on the back is identical so it's a reasonable guess the LIDL cheap version was produced and bottled for them by Luca Ferraris, a name you can see along the road we take out of Castagnole Monferrato, for us one of the most scenic stretches of road you'll ever cycle. Their version is called Terre del Parroco and our guess is they supply the bottles filled and sealed with just the DOCG strips on the neck so LIDL can add their Bricchidorati labels and sell 'em in their stores.

We'll be on the lookout for more of this at LIDL and if you ever see this wine at your local wine shop, be assured that it's the real thing and it's good, as the DOCG should suggest.


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