Arneis or the white Nebbiolo of Piedmont

2017/03/10
Arneis or the white Nebbiolo of Piedmont
Arneis or the white Nebbiolo of Piedmont
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One of the pleasures of Italian wines is discovering a wine like no other; Arneis, a dry white from Piemonte is one of those treasures. The word Arneis meant in local dialect as “rascal. This is used to describe a youngster troublemaker who gives his or her parents a bit of headaches

In its native Piedmont, especially in the regions of Roero and Langhe, Arneis produces elegant white wines with powerful aromas of almonds and peaches. If you love Chardonnay, you should change it up and buy a few bottles of Roero Arneis instead. You might need to hunt for it, but like all good challenges, it’ll end well for you.

Today, there are several very famous producers of Barolo or Barbaresco who also produce an Arneis; among the best are not only Vietti, but also Bruno Giacosa and Gianni Voerzio. Both Vietti and Giacosa produce a Roero Arneis, meaning the grapes are from the Roero district, located across the Tanaro River from the Barolo and Barbaresco zones. As the soils are not as thin here and are also sandier, they are ideal for this white variety. There are other artisanal producers too that make not only excellent but interesting bottles of the variety: They include names such as Salvano, which i had a chance to taste recently with the importer. Other names to look for include: Vietti, Bruno Giacosa, Ceretto, Cornarea, Matteo Correggia, Malvira, and Fontanafredda.

Arneis is most often made in stainless steel vats.  Although some producers give an oak treatment to make a fuller bodied wine, I believe that  it fades some of the crispness  that makes Arneis special.  By DOCG rules, Arneis may be released no earlier than the June following the vintage.  The wine is best to drink in the first year or two after that. Arneis should have a pale golden color with aromas of pear and apricot.  With some producers, Arneis shows floral qualities or powerful notes of almonds.

Piano, Piano, Arneis is gaining a foothold in the wine lists of every Italian good resto in Montreal. For instance, Nora Gray has the Roero Arneis Dla trifula while Hostaria has both the Arneis of Paolo Massa and Paitin. In addition, Italian chic Graziella has the Arneis of Monchiero Carbone. Arneis pairs well with light pastas, fish and risotto dishes. That's the reason why is so popular in Italian restaurants that feature a lighter cuisine.

The Salvano winery started their adventure in Piedmont in the 1930’s. The Sobrero family are proud owners of Salvano. They make terrific reds such as a Nebbiolo d’Alba or their Langhe DOC. In a recent tasting with their importer in Quebec, what really caught my attention was the Roero Arneis. This is a white that do not see any oak in its making. Their Arneis only see stainless steel and it ages on its less which is in vulgar language: the food of the wine. This method imparts a beautiful roundness to their arneis

Salvano Arneis 2015. ( $28.40. Private Import QC, Case of 6, www.vinatovin.com)

Light golden colour. Aromas of golden-green apple with a touch of white flower and citronella. On the mouth, round, gras, very ample. Bright, rich with a satiny mineral texture. Floral retronasal. Very long and elegant. Great with seafood risotto.  

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