Arneis: A Trendy Grape for All Seasons
Enter, Aldo Zaninotto, wine director of Chicago’s popular Osteria Langhe restaurant. If it were up to Aldo, the new wine trend would be Arneis, a little known white grape that is grown in northern Italy’s Piedmont province.
Aldo says, “Arneis is known as the ‘little rascal’ in Piedmontese dialect, because the grape is so hard to cultivate. It is one of the most important white varietals among the DOCG whites in Langhe. With its profile of minerality, floral notes and orchard fruits, Arneis is a perfect white wine for all seasons. Arneis is very food friendly. I carry numerous styles of Arneis on my wine list at Osteria Langhe, including Vietti (by the glass), Bruno Giacosa, Careglio, Recit, Giacomo Fenocchio, Cecu, Marchesi di Barolo, Damliano and Ceretto. The customer response for Arneis has only been extremely positive, making new fans everyday. Arneis sales are near the top of my white wine list. If someone tells me they drink Pinot Grigio, chances are they like drier wines, like Arneis. I don’t carry Pinot Grigio anymore, as Arneis is the perfect fit on any wine list. It has satisfied my customers’ curiosity about trendy wines. If you or your wine program are searching for a new grape, Arneis is the answer.”
As a wine writer and an experienced wine taster and judge, I agree with Aldo.
Arneis has satisfied our summer visitors who expect a Sauvignon Blanc or a Vinho Verde with the array of seafood that we serve to our house guests. Since I grew up in New Orleans and had beer with seafood on most occasions, a cold glass of Arneis has filled that void. (Yes, an old dog can learn new tricks)
Constance Chamberlain, co-founder of Wine & Company represents Arneis. If you have questions or need recommendations, feel free to contact her at: www.wineandcollc.com
Aldo Zaninotto can be reached at: www.osterialanghe.com
Arneis, technically, has been known as: Barolo Bianco, Nebbiollo Bianco, Bianchetta and Bianchetto.
The grapes history goes back to the 1400's. It was found in the Roero region. Traditionally, the grape was used as a blending grape to soften the tannins of the red Nebbiolo varietal. Recognition for the Arneis grape began quite recently, in the 1980's.
Drinking Arneis within the first two to three is still the mantra.yet, aging is possible, thanks to the new breed of winemakers.
The grape has a medium body and acidity. Minerality can be found in its sour apple and grapefruit characteristics.
Roero Arneis DOCG is considered the best region for Arneis, followed closely by Langhe.
Philip S. Kampe