Arneis: the Heaven-scented Rascal Wine of Piedmont
The gorgeous white wine Arneis comes from Piedmont, in north-west Italy. Within Piedmont, the best Arneis is made in the Roero DOCG, which is the highest quality tier, though it is also widely grown throughout the Langhe area in the same region. Arneis possesses beautiful, delicate white floral and pear aromas that are a bit misleading once you take your first sip, but have faith! This is a good thing. Ripe pear, apricots, hazelnut, and a creamy texture which contributes to a medium to full body that Chardonnay drinkers in particular, will appreciate. In fact, with its overall elegance, balance, and drinkability, Arneis is both so delicious and affordable you may just find yourself stocking up your fridge with it!
A Noble White Wine in a Sea of Reds
In the Piemontese dialect, Arneis means 'little rascal,' a name it earned because it can be a finicky grape that is difficult to grow. Through much of its history, it was blended with Nebbiolo to soften the red grape's tannins, which is where its nickname Barolo Bianco (white Barolo) originates. But Piedmont has always been a red wine dominant region. When the practice of blending fell out of favour and the focus shifted to 100% Nebbiolo wines, Arneis plantings dwindled to virtually nothing and the little rascal nearly went extinct. Fortunately for us, a few forward-thinking producers saved the grape by making 100% Arneis wines, and its future is now safe. A good thing too, because nothing beats a glass of Arneis in the summertime. Arneis can also be found in Australia, California, and New Zealand where producers are making exciting New World expressions of this stunning wine. Australia in particular is showing promise. Regions like Adelaide Hills, South Australia, and several growing regions within Victoria are earning a good deal of recognition for their excellent Arneis wines.
Day to Day, Drink Arneis
With its richer body and the fact it comes in both oaked and unoaked styles, Arneis is a great gateway wine for Chardonnay lovers who want to experience the many wines Italy has to offer. It's complex yet elegant, full-bodied yet well-balanced. What's not to love? Arneis wines are usually around 13% alcohol, which lends to the full body and texture, but is still comfortably low enough to enjoy with lunch or dinner, any day of the week. With its refreshing acid and roundness on the palate, it complements dishes like risotto, pasta in cream sauce, and all manner of chicken, fish, or pork. And as versatile as it is with food, Arneis is brilliant whenever, wherever. Treat it the way you would your favourite Chardonnay: at lunch, after work, a quick glass with friends – Arneis is great go-to for white wine drinkers looking to step out of their comfort zone and begin experiencing new fabulous wines.