We're back to Italy this week with a look at a Piedmontese white grape: Arneis!
With it's refreshing acidity and aromas of flowers and citrus, Arneis really is a perfect summer white. Originating from Piedmont, Italy, it is most popularly grown in Piedmont's southern Roero region (just Northwest of the town of Alba, which is famous for its truffles as well as its wine). Indeed, while Arneis is now being planted in Australia, New Zealand, and even California, the Roero region continues to be the grape's true home. The grape is sometimes known as 'Barolo bianco' (white Barolo) as a reminder of the fact that it was once blended with Nebbiolo to make red wines in the Barolo region.
Arneis is a light white wine, offering notes of grapefruit, citrus zest and floral aromas on the nose before proceeding to flavours of pear, apple, and white peaches on the palate. Arneis wines tend to be crisp in acidity and easy to drink, making them perfect for an aperitif or pairing with light dishes, such as salads, cold cuts and light seafood. Although historically blended in red wines, today, Arneis tends to be vinified on its own (without blending with other grapes) and is usually unoaked, letting the grape's natural flavours and aromas shine.
In Piedmontese, Arneis literally means "little rascal" -- a name that came about due to the difficulties associated with planting and harvesting the grape. Arneis grapes tend to have low acidity and have a tendency to over-ripen, making it difficult to find the perfect time to pick them. Arneis is also traditionally susceptible to mildew and allows for only modest yields in most years, which can make growing it a lot of work for re
latively little result. Thankfully, Italian winemakers evidently enjoy the flavours and aromas that the grape produces enough to keep producing this fantastic summer white!
The Short Version
Names: Arneis, Barolo Bianco
Flavour Profile: Aromas of citrus, flowers, and sometimes almond. Flavours of peaches, apples, and pears.
Best-Known Regions: Italy (Roero), Australia, California, New Zealand
Price Range: $15-$30
Food Pairings: Salad, seafood, cold cuts.
If this article has made you thirsty for a little bit of Arneis, why not try Daniele Pelassa's Roero Arneis San Vito -- a great traditional expression of this fantastic grape, available at a Vintages section near you!