Posted by: tomciocco | June 12, 2010

BEFORE THERE WAS “HEIRLOOM” THERE WAS ARNEIS

By the middle 1960s, there were just a few neglected rows of a very peculiar little white grape scattered in a handful of vineyards in and around Alba in Piedmont, Italy. Known by its local dialect name, this once highly endangered variety was (and still is) known as Arneis.

Though an exact translation for the name is tough to nail down, the word arneis (ar- NAYees) is perhaps best rendered as “difficult” or “fussy”, and indeed the vine is very site and soil sensitive, shy- bearing, and bit disease prone to boot, so it’s not hard to understand why its popularity had dwindled dramatically by the middle of the last century.

But thanks to a few tenacious, proud preservationist growers (the great Bruno Giacosa among them) Arneis was plucked from the edge of extinction, and through a long series of experiments and adjustments, was masterfully steered into place as one of  the “franchise” wines for the Roero region.

I put Matteo Correggia’s interpretation of Arneis next to a Piedmont-style risotto in bianco with some baby peas, and rainbow trout fried with sage, and some spinach sauteed in butter with crushed garlic and a grating of nutmeg. And though Arneis goes well with any fish dish (and eggs as well, by the way), the variety has a certain “sweetness” that pairs particularly well with fresh water critters like trout or crayfish.

I just realized that I wrote a bit about Arneis in recent post. Either I really like Arneis or I need to actually start swallowing a few of those ginko biloba capsules that I’ve been using with my slingshot …

 

Matteo Correggia Roero Arneis 2009

 

Bright and pale yellow color. Clean aromas of white flowers, subtle tropical fruit, green melon, and wet fern. The palate shows a creamy almond fatness balanced by fresh and pretty pear -like pure fruit and honey flavors, a solid structure, and an overall lovely balance.

 Tom Ciocco

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Responses

  1. hey Tom,
    NM champagne (Gruet) makes the NYTimes. your thoughts??
    tina

    see:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/16/dining/16newmex.html?hpw

    • I love Gruet. It’s one of the best value sparkling wines available anywhere.

      TC


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