Posts tagged ‘arneis’
One of the joys of Italian wines is finding a wine like no other; Arneis, a dry white from Piemonte is one of those treasures.
The word Arneis is roughly translated in local dialect as “rascal.” This is used to describe a youngster who gives his or her parents a bit of trouble.
Arneis can also be translated as “crazy” and that’s exactly what people thought of producers in the 1960s who wanted to produce a white wine in the midst of the Barolo zone. Luca Currado, current winemaker for Vietti, one of the best-known producers of Arneis, tells me that his father decided to produce a white wine after finding this variety in the middle of vineyards planted to Nebbiolo, the great red variety that is the sole grape used in Barolo. This white grape was known as “Nebbia Bianca” at the time (later it became known as Arneis) and Alfredo Currado decided to ferment the grapes separately instead of with other red grapes. Thus Vietti is generally credited as being the first producer to work with Arneis in 1967.
Today, there are several 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.
Most bottlings are aged in stainless steel and not oak to preserve the delicate aromatics of pine, melon and pear. Medium to medium-full, Arneis has lovely texture and a dry finish with lively acidity. These wines should generally be enjoyed in their youth. The current 2008s are quite good, while the 2007s are generally outstanding. It’s doubtful you’d find examples of older bottlings of Arneis, though I recently tried a bottle of 2005 from Vietti, which was in fine shape.
Naturally, there are several impressive producers of Arneis in the Roero district; among these are Cascina Chicco, Cascina Pellerino, Malvira and Matteo Correggia. The last two producers are among my favorite; the Coreggia being a richer, fatter, more lush style, while the various bottlings from Malvira tend to be more subtle with complex floral and herbal aromatics (especially the Trinita bottling).
Producers of Arneis worth searching for include:
- Bruno Giacosa
- Matteo Correggia
No one really knows how many grape varieties are planted throughout Italy today for the production of wine. There are at least 300, but the number could be as high as 1000 – or perhaps even higher. The reason that there is not fixed number is that growers are constantly finding a few rows of an obscure variety that they thought was extinct, yet there it is, mixed in amidst other varieties.
Of course, Italy has so-called international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Chardonnay planted in various regions, but the numbers for these varieties are small compared to the total acreage of indigenous varieties found throughout the country. It’s varieties such as Greco, Fiano and Aglianico in Campania, Sangiovese and Canaiolo in Tuscany and Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo and Arneis in Piemonte that are only a few of the distinct indigenous grapes that define the Italian wine world today.
I’ll cover some of the more important indigenous varieties in the next four posts; this will be A-C, while I’ll cover D-Z over the next few posts.
One of Italy’s greatest red varieties, primarily found in the southern regions of Campania and Basilicata. The most famous red wines made from this variety are Aglianico del Vulture, the best red wine of Basilicata and Taurasi and Aglianico del Taburno, both from Campania. Taurasi is one of the country’s most complex and longest-lived reds.
Popular thought has it that the word “aglianico” is a derivation of the word “hellenico”, an adjective for Greece; thus a reference to the Greek colonists that first planted this variety over 2000 years ago. Other linguists disagree with this reasoning.
Red variety with very good acidity and flavors of cherry, currant and plum used for production of lightly sweet dessert wine in Tuscany and Puglia.
White variety grown in Piemonte, most famously in the Roero district, across the Tanaro River from the Langhe. Usually non oak aged, the flavors are of pear and pine. Arneis in local dialect means “rascal” or “crazy.”
Grown in Piemonte, this is a red variety with light tannins and high acidity. Most famous examples are Barbera d’Asti and Barbera d’Alba (see post on Barbera).
A white variety with high acidity grown along the coastal zones of Campania, most famously in the Amalfi Coast and the island of Ischia. Many excellent whites from these areas have Biancolella as part of the blend.
There is both a Bombino Bianco and Bombino Nero. These varieties are found in Pugila – generally in the north (Castel del Monte DOC) – and are usually blending varieties.
A lovely red variety used most often to produce a charming lightly sparkling (frizzante) wine, especially Brachetto d’Acqui from Piemonte. Flavors of strawberry and raspberry. Some producers also make a passito version of Brachetto.
A traditional blending variety used in the Chianti zone. Light tannins with cherry fruit flavors. Many producers today in Chianti have gotten away from this variety in favor of better-known (and deeper-colored) international varieties.
Grown in Sardegna, this is known as Grenache in France. Produces light, earthy red wines with berry fruit and moderate tannins.
Also grown in Sardegna, this is known as Carignane in France (it is also grown in Spain). Deeply colored with raspberry and black cherry fruit, good acidity and rich, but not heavy tannins.
A white variety, found in the Etna district of Sicily. A few producers work with this variety and produce a long-lasting white with rich fruit (pear, lemon) and very good acidity. The name is translated as “constant.”
A white variety from Sicily, this produces simple, clean citrusy and apple-tinged dry whites meant for consumption in their youth.
A synonym for Nebbiolo as used in the Valtellina district.
Literally “cherry,” this is a red variety used in Tuscany, especially in the Maremma. Often used as a blending variety, there are a few examples of 100% Ciliegiolo that are quite full on the palate. Cherry flavors (naturally) and moderate tannins.
Another blending variety from Toscana, often used in Chianti. More deeply colored than Canaiolo.
The principal grape of Gavi (also known as Cortese di Gavi), a dry white from southeastern Piemonte. Flavors of pear with notes of almond.
One of the major red varieties used in the Valpolicella district (and in the production of Amarone). Rich tannins, plenty of spice and cherry fruit. This is the variety that gives the most intensity to a Valpolicella or Amarone.
Another variety used in the Valpolicella district. Similar characteristics to Corvina, but with fewer tannins and more forward fruit.
See my companion website: learnitalianwines.com
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