Wine Tasting Club – Arneis
Arneis, pronounced ar-NAYS, is a bit of an unknown in the world of wine. It’s an Italian white grape that’s been grown for hundreds of years in Piemonte. The name of the grape gives us some insight into the nature of the grape. Arneis, in the dialect of the Piemontese, means “little rascal”. The ancient Italians apparently gave it that name for a very good reason. It’s a grape variety that can be quite temperamental to grow. Although it thrives in the cool climate at the foot of the Alps, if the thermometer tips the balance toward either the cold or warm side, the grape’s development goes a little awry. In good years, arneis is crisp, indicating nice acidity, and floral.
So, if the arneis grape is little more than a headache for grape growers, why is it still cultivated? Well, it actually wasn’t for a very long time. Vineyards growing arneis had dwindled almost into non-existence by the 1970s. Prior to that, the grape was important because it was blended with Nebbiolo to reduce the harsh tannins present in that famous Barolo grape. Since the last century, Barolo makers have used 100% Nebbiolo grapes to make their sought after wines, and Arneis is no longer blended. There has, however, been a resurgence in interest in growing and producing Arneis-based wines, not only in Italy but in the cooler parts of California, too.
Look for wines that showcase Arneis in your liquor store. Along with the floral notes, you should notice hints of pear and apricot. Enjoy as an aperitif or with seafood dishes.
Coopers Creek Select Vineyards, The Little Rascal Arneis 2008 (New Zealand)
Demarie Roero, Arneis 2008 (Italy)