Arneis

White grapeThis grape comes from the North Western region of Piedmont, most known for classic reds like Barolo or the trendy wine bar white of the moment Gavi. But on a visit recently to the region I found that lots of winemakers had a special fondness for this grape; rather than Cortese grape that makes Gavi.

It shares that bright, fresh flavour of Gavi and elegant minerality; but it has just that bit more oomph in fruit that makes it more interesting. I get a gentle honeysuckle, herb aroma and soft orchard fruit palate, with touches of ripe peach.

I was told by these winemakers that it was only recently re-discovered which is why it hasn’t found as much fame. So watch this space, it may be the new kid in the Piedmont pack.

Another nice fact I learnt was that Arneis means “little rascal” in local dialect because it is difficult to grow.

The Facts

Piedmont is a beautiful hilly region that gets a lot of foggy mornings. That helps create a long cooler growing season which is perfect for creating brisk whites. Arneis has small grapes compared to Cortese which makes Gavi this helps it to have more concentrated flavours. It can be prone to oxidation so needs careful handling. It has naturally low acidity so the best examples are grown in cooler sandy soils of Roero that help preserve this.  Winemakers don’t use malolactic on this style to retain its delicate perfume. Oak use is rare but there are examples of oak aged version.

Alternatives

Cortese, Pinot Grigio, Fruilano, Garganega, Chasselas

Classic Regions

Italy: Piedmont (Langhe, Roero)

USA: California, Oregon

Australia: Victoria, Tasmania

New Zealand: Gisborne

Food Matches

Veal or turkey, white fish, ricotta ravioli, leek or spring vegetable risotto