Arneis: 'White Barolo'

January 20, 2017

When one thinks of dry wines from Italy’s Piemonte, they are usually red wines.  Here is a white wine everyone should be aware of - Arneis.

Arneis is named after the grape from which it is made.  The name means “little rascal” in Piemontese dialect, so named because it can be difficult to grow.  Historically that difficulty was because the better situated vineyards were planted with the “more important” red nebbiolo grape leaving the “lesser” sites for Arneis.

Traditionally, this white grape was planted more in an effort to attract birds and bees away from the red grapes rather than for its actual quality for drinking.  It was also, however, added to the nebbiolo wines of the region to soften their harsh tannins.  This earned Arneis the nickname Barolo Bianco or White Barolo.  In recent times, the trend for reds became 100% Nebbiolo and Arneis grape production shrank so low that by the 1970’s, the grape was on the verge of extinction. It was saved from that fate by a few producers including Ceretto, Bruno Giacosa and Alfredo Currado (Vietti), who began bottling their own wines.  The 1990s saw an explosion of interest in this grape and production quadrupled.  Today, there are many producers making Arneis with over 1,500 acres under vine.  They are taking advantage of modern techniques and knowledge to create a very classy wine.

Food pairing tips
Fantastic with first courses and vegetable dishes, white meats; chicken and turkey. Excellent with carbonara, mild cheese sauces and curries. Delicious with salumi and cooked ham on the bone.

References; Loren Sonkin & Valerie Quintanilla



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