The Game of the Rose - Ruché - La Donna Cannone

February 19, 2010

The winter is still here, despite the warm weather we’ve been experiencing, the open areas where the snow has receded, and the nearby river flowing freely toward the sea. The lack of color has me impatient to see the fields in bloom, even though I know the time for such things, is just around the corner.  Since trying that Lacrima Di Morro recently, the urges have been getting stronger.
There was however, one last rose bud in the cellar, and I had been holding on to it, hoping I would recognize the right time to release it.  As things go, the decision was not up to me in the end.  This particular bottle was already opened and waiting for me when I got home.

Bonny Doon Vineyard - Ruché - 2005 La Donna Cannone

There is no reason for me to get upset…it was not specially marked as “reserve”, nor was it in that special area of the cellar that is cordoned off for the future…so it was fair game.  It was brought up, because the last couple bottles that we had tried, seemed to be showing their age, and well…unless you are a collector, there is no sense letting a wine sit past its peak.

We first crossed paths with the lady of the cannon back in 2006 when we were just returning from a trip to visit my in-laws in Chile, and stopped at the Hunger Mountain C0-op in Montpelier, VT, to re-stock the larder.  In the process of doing so, and in an effort to assuage the reverse culture shock, I perused the wines that are displayed all over the store.  There is no “wine section” in this place, there are just wall displays, end caps, and piles of wine boxes tucked into every available nook.  The prices are reasonable for retail, and the selection is eclectic, while still remaining quite functional.

Lo and behold, there was a display of  “clearance” wine with a fantastically colorful label, and the Bonny Doon pedigree.  No shelf talker, just the price indicator.  $20, on special for $8.99.  Sure…I know what you are thinking…beware the clearance sale…who knows why the store wants to unload the stuff?
Vacillatingbetween the mindsets of frugality, adventure, and risk-management…I picked up two bottles.

Upon arrival at home, the unceremonious uncorking, and a rough pour into glasses…we were enveloped by a wafting cloud of rose petals.  This was not old lady perfume roses, or bathroom air freshener…it was truly a meditative seat in the center of a rose garden in bloom.  The wine itself was light in color, and had a rustic, tannic bite, not unlike Negroamaro in its pleasingly bitter finish. Definitely a deal, and an intriguing discovery.  Ruché di castagnole monferrato.

We needed to be in Montpelier a week later, and since the wine was still on the floor of the co-op…we took a case home.  A month and a half  later, while heading back from the airport after a business trip, I stopped in again. Sure enough the pile was still there.  I could not help myself, and took one more case.  Had no one else even tried this wine?

We tiptoed through our little stockpile, and shared it only with friends and close family, or for our own romantic dinners.  Slowly it dwindled until there were only a few of its kind.  We have known since that first bottle that decanting was a huge help, in helping this flower unfold…but it seemed, in later bottles, that it did not respond as well to the air, or show itself in the same way.  The last couple of bottles were treated with maybe a bit less care and reverence than they could have been, until there was only one.

The Ruché seems not to have shown so well, and the cannon lady did not seem to fly as far as she one did.

And then there was Day 2

The floral and tannic elements that seemed to be so thin,  falling apart, and so disparate after opening…were merely taking their time, assembling themselves for a final assault on both my senses and my lack of sensibility.
To think that the required decanting time for these bottles had steadily been increasing, had not entered my mind.  That means that those last few bottles that were “going by”, were really just sleeping heavily, and needed more time to rise up and give their best to us…and relatively, we just swilled them like heathens.

The final glass of  La Donna Cannone 2005 had all of the rich aromas that I remembered like a first kiss, took on a syrup like mouth feel, and presented as a sour cherry and rose petal reduction sauce, that finally drifted into a cloud of fine chalky dust.   An amazing mouthful, for a wine that you can actually read through.

Now I realize that Bonny Doon has changed their business model in the last few years.  The Ruché and wine projects of it’s ilk are no longer, and Randall Grahm is focusing quite intently on elevating the notion of terroir for wines produced in this country.   One of the important aspects of a winemaker who attempts to release the spirit of terroir, is that they not get in the way of what the grapes want to express…it seems that this wine was just such an example. I would love to know the provenance story of the fruit that made this wine, and how it came to be stuffed into that cannon.


This link folows a post/comment discussion about the 2004 vintage and  close out pricing.

The Ruche is not something that you will run across just anywhere…keep your eyes peeled in the Italian Piedmont section of fine wine stores, or ask an associate.
Here are a few listed at

And for heaven’s sake…if you find yourself in Italy, in the neighborhood of Asti, you will have a betting odds chance of finding some, and by asking for it, you may be seen as sing other than a plain old garden flower tourist.


Comments (1)


  1. [...] in the north country…we’re still not ready for pinot noir.

Leave a Reply