We all know that Piemonte is known for its red wines, but who can drink those on these blistering hot days? I sure can't!
I have been pretty obsessed lately with trying to explore Piemonte's comeback kid and native varietal Roero Arneis. It is a delicate and bright wine, is a little more aromatic than the other local Gavi white wine made from the Cortese grapes, and often smells of white flowers and grapefruit. Aside from their being really hard to pronounce with those hard-to-roll Italian Rs and Arneis sounding very Piemontesish, I have really been enjoying them, especially with pasta dishes!
Last weekend, Claudio and I went to visit the winery Luigi Penna & Figli near the town of Alba. After a huge thunderstorm the night before, we were blessed with a bright blue sky and cotton ball clouds, perfect for testing out our new wide-angle lens. I chose this winery because it was basically near Alba, in a frazione called San Rocco Seno D'Elvio (another mouthful), but the road just kept going up and up until we arrived at our destination. We were like small morsels at the bottom of a giant bowl.
We were greeted by third generation winemaker Giuliano who kind of reminded me of George from "Seinfeld." He was extremely generous in showing us his small winery and was open to sharing loads of information with us, starting from the basics to the very detailed specifics. The most interesting part was learning about their Piemontese family history and learning how each bottle is named after some connection with either the territory or family, ex: N'Giolina (Angelina), Pinin (nickname Giuseppe).
Penna lies in an interesting location in a small area right between the Barolo DOCG zone and Barbaresco DOCG zone. This means that although the land is still great for Nebbiolo, they cannot technically make denominated Barolo or Barbaresco from it. They are lucky to be on the bordering Moscato area, so they are able to make Moscato D'Asti. We were lucky to try the rare Dolcetto D'Alba Superiore Galante from his "Cru" series. Since normally Dolcetto is a table wine, it is often vinified in stainless steel. This one is aged in oak, giving it an exciting richness and complexity.
Next, it was time for the Arneis! The first Arneis Lurè is from his regular line, made in stainless steel tanks. It was fresh and crisp with delicate aromas showing typicity for this varietal. I loved it! Then, we compared it to his somewhat "experimental" Arneis Moiolo which he aged for a brief time in acacia barrels. The acacia wood gives it a more subtle flavor than new oak, giving it a full-bodied and soft feel on the palate. The aromas were more like that of a California Chardonnay actually, slightly smoky with tropical fruits. An interesting suggestion given by Giuliano was to drink it as you would a red, not straight out of the fridge. It was definitely a surprise, but a fun way to compare two new styles of Arneis.
With our stomachs all growling at 2:00 p.m., we left dear Giuliano and had a picnic with the two versions of Arneis near Barbaresco! It was truly an informative visit and a magical paradise near the hub of Alba. I look forward to trying more of their wines in the future. Now, go out, get some Arneis and try!