What is Arneis?
Adam Walls reveals how Arneis, Italy’s ‘little rascal’ is proving a hit in Australia thanks to its rich appeal.
Crisp and floral, Arneis is a white that Italian winemakers often blend with Nebbiolo to add a touch of sweetness and perfume. In Australia, it’s proving tough to grow due to the fact that it’s low-cropping and susceptible to many vineyard diseases. However, it’s certainly an emerging hit.
Arneis hails from the North Western Italian region of Piedmont where it is most famously associated with the white wines of Roero. The fact that Roero sits across the river from the famous Barolo means that Arneis has earned the nickname of Barolo Bianco (white Barolo). It is also thought that the variety’s name is derived from a Piedmontese word meaning “little rascal”. This is due to the fact that the grapes are hard to grow as Arneis is a low cropping variety and is susceptible to mildew.
Did you know?
Arneis vines were sometimes planted next to Nebbiolo vines, but largely as a form of protection – the Arneis grapes’ stronger fragrance distracted hungry birds and insects away from the more highly prized Nebbiolo.
In Italy, Piedmont is a cool region with lots of hills, so it makes perfect sense that the most successful regions in Australia for Arneis are cooler with many having rolling hills like South Australia’s Adelaide Hills, Victoria’s King Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley, and the NSW Southern Highlands. Arneis from a cool climate region gives good balance between fruit and acidity. In warm vintages, Arneis shows lower acidity and a more powerful fruit profile.
Arneis Tasting Notes
Arneis produces very fragrant wines with notes of pear and apple. The elegance of the aroma hides the fact that the wines are medium to full bodied with pear, apple, stone fruit and nutty notes.
With its rich flavour profile, Arneis will appeal to anyone who loves fruit-driven Chardonnay or Verdelho.
Food Pairing with Arneis
Given its soft acidity and texture, Arneis pairs well with lighter food flavours. Try seafood pasta, salads with creamy sauces and shellfish.
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