Vineyards near Canale (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
Piemonte is a region known for its wines from the Langhe district, especially the great Nebbiolo-based reds Barolo and Barbaresco, iconic offerings produced from vineyards not far from the town of Alba. Journalists expound the world-class qualities of wines from this area and tourists visit to experience the glories of this celebrated wine and food territory.
But there’s another excellent wine zone very close to the Langhe that doesn’t receive the attention it should. Head west, across the Tanaro River near Alba and you will arrive in the Roero district. Here, there are white and red wines – and even a few sparkling – that are among Piemonte’s finest, although you just don’t read much about them. It’s a district that is overlooked and while that’s understandable, especially when compared with the Langhe’s wine treasures, it’s more than a little unfortunate.
Arneis grapes just before harvest (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
Undoubtedly, what most consumers know about the wines of the Roero are the beautiful whites made from the Arneis grape. This is the spiritual home of this variety, one that has become very successful in the United States and in Europe, especially at wine bars. Dry with appealing notes of pear, lemon peel, and even some notes of guava in ripe years, Roero Arneis is the signature wine of this district. While approachable upon release (current offerings as of this writing are from the 2014 vintage), the finest examples age well for up to five to seven years, with a few acquiring notes of petrol after five years, giving them somewhat of a Riesling identity. “It’s important for us to make people realize that Arneis can age well,” says Francesco Carbone of Monchiero Carbone, located in Canale in the heart of the Roero district.
Giovanni Negro of the Angelo Negro estate (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
It’s somewhat ironic that the most famous examples of Roero Arneis are made by producers in the Langhe (a few famous Barolo and Barbaresco producers, whose name I will omit for obvious reasons); but at least the success these producers have enjoyed has given consumers an awareness of Arneis from the Roero. There are dozens of first-rate producers of Arneis, located in the Roero, among them Matteo Coreggia, Malvirà, Cornarea, Marco Porello and Deltetto, to name just a few. One of the very best producers of Roero Arneis is Giovanni Negro of the Angelo Negro estate in Monteu; his “Perdaudin” offering is exceptional, offering concentration and complexity found in the world’s finest white wines.
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