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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Tuesday, November 10 2009. 17:57

GrapeFind: Ruché and Erbaluce

Piedmont is known for many indigenous grape varieties that include Arneis, Cortese, Dolcetto and Barbera etc which have been made popular in India during the last five years, but Ruché and Erbaluce  are also a potential favourite of the Indian palate, writes Subhash Arora who discovered the taste at the Wine Show 2009 in Torino followed by winery and enoteca visits.

Photo By:: Adil Arora

When one thinks of Piemonte wines, Barolo and Barbaresco made from Nebbiolo grapes come to mind instantly. This is an indigenous (known as autochthonous in Italy) grape-but over the years it has become accepted as an ‘international’ variety, like the nearby Tuscany where Sangiovese is accepted internationally in the shape of Chianti, Chianti Classico, Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino, Nobile and Rosso di Montepulciano and many Super Tuscans.

DelWine has featured in the past several indigenous varieties in Europe hitherto unknown in India but potential mates for Indian palate. These have included Verdicchio and  Lacrima in Marche and Grünerveltliner from Austria. Erbaluce (pron. ehr-bah-loo-chay) erba-loochay) and Ruché ( pron. roo-kay)are the white and red varieties which are perfumed and flavoursome for the Indian palate-especially for the vegetarians.  

Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato

Grown in a small area of around 40 hAs in and around Monferrato in the Asti region, the Pinot like grape is very aromatic and perfumed. Laced with floral and plum notes, it is considered the red equivalent of Gewürztraminer. It makes the DOC wine with the above designation. The tannins are supple enough to make it a very attractive wine for the vegetarians as well though it would be a perfect wine for pastas, pizzas and mutton or chicken biryani.

The leading producer is Montalbera ( whom I visited at the Wine Show. They have two variants- La Tradizione, a classical wine and also Laccento- a slightly more modern version both of which are easy to drink, very perfumed, dry but fruity. The aromas in fact remind you of forest fruit, plums and are slightly spicy. The mouthfeel is luscious and persistent; the slight black peppery flavour is perfect for the Indian palate. The after-taste is fairly long. Though a bit more expensive than Barbera and Dolcetto, this is a wine one can easily finish off a bottle between two persons.

I wonder how well it travels and how much quantity I available, but it will be an excellent and exclusive wine for a restaurant serving Italian cuisine as it will pair well with a wide spectrum of foods including vegetarian cuisines. For details you may contact directly at They also make the passito version of this grape which is an interesting desert wine but will have a small market in India, at least. The Rose, Chardonnay, Cortese might be of minor interest.

Erbaluce di Caluso

Erbaluce is the indigenous varietal found in the area near the city of Caluso, about 30 kms north-east of Torino. In these hills, the grape makes fine wines that are quite aromatic with fruits and herbs on the nose and high acidity. The name of the grape comes from two Italian words: erba, meaning “herb” and luce, meaning “light”, a reference to the wine’s brilliant color when it is young and its herbal character.

This grape is very versatile and can make a dry, dessert passito wine  and also a sparkling wine due to high acidity. The sparkling version in made in the classic method and the better quality wines can age for more than a decade. There are some dry whites which undergo a small oak barrel treatment. 

Erbaluce with a variety of foods, from seafood and risotto to pork chops and mutton kebabs for the oak-aged bottles would be a good pairing.

La Campore, Orsolani and Cieck are some of the best producers of this delicious, easy drinking wine which is available at a much lower price point than the Gavi (Cortese grapes) and Arneis which Indian Wine Academy has helped popularise in India. With Roero Arneis becoming a DOCG, these wines are expected to become even more expensive, making an entry of Erbaluce di Caluso a real and delicious possibility. Again, no Italian restaurant should be without it.

I tasted the above and some more at the Torino Enoteca Regionale di Caluso based in Piazza Valperga in Caluso-the regional enoteca of the Torino region which stocks all the 7 DOC appellations of the region- including the Erbaluce di Caluso DOC dry, passito and Spumante.

La Campore

Owned and run by Franca and Roberto Gabriele a very warm and hospitable couple, the winery was also a participant at the Wine Show. Laments Franca, ‘even at the show most people did not understand or know this grape.’

Producing Erbaluce which they had just harvested the previous week (around 24th October), they make both the dry wine and the sparkling version with the trditional Champagne method. All their vines are 15-30 years old and one can feel full concentration in the flavour. The wine was very clean and aromatic with citric aromas and apples in the back layer. Great fruity full and persistent mouthfeel and a rounded feel on the palate made it a delicious easy drinking wine. The low alcohol level of 12.5% was an added attraction.

The passito, on the other hand had a balanced sweetness and acidity and went very well with the candied fruit. But I tried with cheese and did not like the pairing.

For more info, visit or write to



Subhash Arora Says:

Dear Mr. Giorgio Soldati, I clearly remember the visit to your winery and I believe it to be the best Gavi producing company. I was impressed by the variety and the quality of your wines. I have often told importers, connoisseurs and restaurant owners about your wines. I think I wrote about you too but your wines certainly deserve a place in the top end Italian restaurants, not only in India but any part of the world. Most people do not appreciate the difference between a Gavi and Gavi di Gavi which is what you produce, of course and being better quality standards, is slightly more expensive. Subhash Arora

Posted @ November 11, 2009 13:26


Subhash Arora Says:

I have tasted AlbaRossa. Five producers in the world? Watch out for my article in the next issue that talks about the grape variety which has only ONE producer in the world. Italy has some fascinating wine stories. Subhash

Posted @ November 11, 2009 13:21


Giorgio Soldati Says:

Mr Arora, I remebre your visit at my Cellar "La Scolca" last year. Later we had some messages. Now, please what I have to do to have a presentation of our Gavi ( in your news? And so later more find an importer? I Thank you Giorgio Soldati

Posted @ November 11, 2009 12:08


Remie Says:

Tasted Ruche at WfA, recently, made by Casa Martelletti, within the Perlino Optima group. Very impressive and agree with your thoughts on the wine. The other interesting varietal is a cross called AlbaRossa from the same company. Here only 5 producers in the world. No idea about prices, though.

Posted @ November 11, 2009 12:05


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