Today's Sponsors
 Château Palmer
Harvest begins this week at Château Palmer.
 California Wine Club
Biggest Sale Event of the Year is Going on Now!

In This Issue
 Wine Advisor Premium Edition Subscribe now to receive tomorrow's annual high-end new releases tasting report.
 Offbeat grapes and wines - Ruché An unusual Italian red from Randall Grahm's "Il Circo" collection offers a rare taste of the Ruché grape.
 Bonny Doon 2003 "Il Circo" Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato ($18.99) A blend of red fruit and outrageously spicy character signal this unusual Northern Italian variety.
 Château Palmer Harvest begins this week at Château Palmer.
 California Wine Club Biggest Sale Event of the Year is Going on Now!
 This week on Virtual visits to Zaca Mesa in Santa Barbara and Chateau de Malle in Sauternes, and a quick poll on how many countries are in your wine collection.
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index The Wine Advisor archives.
Administrivia Change E-mail address, frequency, format or unsubscribe.

 Learn about our RSS Feed

Wine Advisor's Premium Edition:
High-end new releases report
A very special edition of the Wine Advisor Premium Edition will go out to subscribers tomorrow: My annual tasting report from a regional distributor's annual new-release tasting will deliver my comments on more than 40 top-end wines well above the Wine Advisor's usual spending territory, including such sought-after goodies as 2000 Grange, 2002 Clos de Tart, Flora Springs 2001 Trilogy, 2001 Chateau Beychevelle, Chateau de Beaucastel 2001 Chateaneuf-du-Pape, and many more.

The Wine Advisor Premium Edition is my only fee-based publication. A subscription is just $24 for a full year of biweekly Premium E-mail bulletins, which focus on finding the best values among wines in more upscale price ranges. This modest charge, only $1 per issue and less than the price of a single bottle of high-end wine, will more than pay for itself in savings over the course of a year's quality-and-value recommendations ... and it's a great way to express your tangible support for everything we do here at

Subscribe now!
Free sample: Read last year's high-end tasting.

Offbeat grapes and wines - Ruché

Come join me on another our occasional excursions down the wine roads less taken, as we enjoy a quick look at Ruché ("Roo-kay"), an Italian red grape so obscure that it's only grown in a few small villages in the Castagnole Monferrato hills northeast of Asti in Piemonte.

Long available only to tourists visiting the area, Ruché has started turning up occasionally in the world market, especially after Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato was legally designated a D.O.C. under Italian wine law a few years ago.

It's such a rustic oddity, indeed, that the Italian Trade Commission's informative Website declares that almost nothing is known about the grape's history, which was never written down but exists only as an oral tradition.

Even the name of the grape is under debate. I've read that it comes from a dialect word for "rock," but this may reflect confusion with the French Roche. speculates that the Piemontese name boasts of the vine's resistance to roncet, a local term for "a degenerative infection of viral origin to which the variety is more resistant than others cultivated in the district, particularly Barbera and Grignolino."

Whatever it means, it makes a wine with a memorable aroma and flavor profile that offers a significant change of pace from the usual suspects. Put Ruché in your glass, and you certainly won't mistake it for Merlot. Pinot Noir, maybe.

I've reported previously on an excellent example from the importer John Given, Cantine Sant'Agata "Na Vita" Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato. Today's tasting features an import from the colorfully labeled "Il Circo" line of unusual Italian varieties from Bonny Doon Vineyards.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on today's topic (or any other wine-related subject), you'll find a round-table online discussion in our interactive Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, where you're always welcome to join in the conversations about wine.

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.

Here's a simply formatted copy of today's Wine Advisor, designed to be printed out for your scrapbook or file or downloaded to your PDA or other wireless device.

Il Circo Bonny Doon 2003 "Il Circo" Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato ($18.99)

This is a very dark purple wine with a bright reddish-violet edge. Luscious aromas offer a benchmark example of Ruché with a heady, rosy floral scent accented with warm brown spice. Rich and full in flavor, tart red fruit and spice, mouth-filling and plushy on first impression, but a firm core of acidity carries it into a clean, medium-long finish, with an unusual, intriguing hint of caraway seed and light tannic bitterness lingering. U.S. importer: Bonny Doon Vineyard, Santa Cruz, Calif. (July 16, 2005)

FOOD MATCH: It went very well with a light summer dinner of spaghetti with salsa cruda, hot pasta tossed with chopped fresh garden tomatoes, sweet onions, diced fresh whole-milk mozzarella and basil.

VALUE: I'd like to see it closer to the middle teens, but considering the strength of the Euro and the wine's artisanal status and flavor interest, it's certainly justifiable at this price, if only to add Ruché to your life list.

WHEN TO DRINK: Ruché is a wine made to drink young and fresh, and it will lose flavor interest as its fruit fades with time. It should be safe to drink it through the next year or so, though.

"Ruché" = "Roo-kay"
"Il Circo" = "Eel CHEER-coe"
"Castagnole Monferrato" = "Cahs-tahn-YO-lay Mawn-fehr-RAH-toe"

The Bonny Doon Website has a page about the 2003 Il Circo Ruché in its "Eurodoon" section,

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: shows limited vendors for Il Circo Ruché, but it should be available from the Bonny Doon Website or wherever Bonny Doon wines are sold in the U.S., Canada and Europe:

Harvest begins this week at Château Palmer

Want to follow the harvest of 2005 with a close-up virtual visit to one of the great properties of Bordeaux? Château Palmer has launched its new blog-like journal, "The Daily Palmer," just in time to provide daily updates on the latest harvest information:

Chateau Palmer What's more, Château Palmer's main site is now online with a complete redesign. The stylish new site is easier to read, and it has expanded its most popular features, assuring quick access to tasting notes, online reservations for Château visits, and information about finding Château Palmer and Alter Ego wines in auctions, restaurants and wine stores around the world.

There's way too much to see in a single visit. Click now to start browsing:

California Wine Club
California Wine Club:
Biggest Sale Event of the Year is Going on Now!

The Prices Falling Autumn Wine Sale, the California Wine Club's biggest Sale Event of the year, is now under way. Over 100 award-winning wines discounted at up to 58 percent. Premier Club wines are just $99/Case! International Selections and even the highly reviewed, rare wines in the upper level club, Signature Series, are also available at incredible savings. Stock your cellar today! 1-800-77-4443 or

This week on

Here are links to some of our recently published articles that I think you'll enjoy:

Schaefer on Wine: Zaca Mesa pursues the elegant course
Zaca Mesa Winery, one of the oldest wineries in Santa Barbara County, has been through some changes over the years. It served as a de facto Wine University to many former employees, now graduates, who are well known in the wine world. But in recent times there is a renewed focus on what Zaca Mesa does best.

Reports from our Readers: A visit to Château de Malle
For most wine lovers, "Sauternes" equals "Yquem." But of course the very traditional areas of Sauternes and Barsac includes other estates. While covering the giant VinExpo in Bordeaux this summer, correspondent Evelyne Lejeune-Resnick, a Parisian wine lover, visited with Nancy de Bournazel, owner of the magnificent Château de Malle estate.

Wine Lovers' Discussion Group: How many countries are represented in your cellar?
If you've been hesitant to participate in our online forum's interactive discussions, here's an exceptionally easy way to make your inaugural post: It only takes a moment to participate in this simple, poll-style discussion and compare the number of different countries represented in your wine collection (large or small, it doesn't matter) with those of other wine lovers around the world. Click this link and join the fun!

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:

 Another angle on 2003 - Beaujolais (Sept. 16, 2005)

 Trade tasting (Sept. 14, 2005)

 Oak or noak? (Sept. 12, 2005)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Butter (Sept. 15, 2005)

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:

 30 Second Wine Advisor, daily or weekly (free)
 Wine Advisor FoodLetter, Thursdays (free)
 Wine Advisor Premium Edition, alternate Tuesdays ($24/year)

For all past editions, click here


For information, E-mail


To subscribe or unsubscribe from The 30 Second Wine Advisor, change your E-mail address, or for any other administrative matters, please use the individualized hotlink found at the end of your E-mail edition. If this is not practical, contact me by E-mail at, including the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so I can find your record.

We do not use our E-mail list for any other purpose and will never give or sell your name or E-mail address to anyone. I welcome feedback, suggestions, and ideas for future columns. To contact me, please send E-mail to

All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

Monday, Sept. 19, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

Subscribe to the 30 Second Wine Advisor

Wine Advisor archives