Description 1 of 2
Common synonyms: Bianchetta, Bianchetta d'Alba, Bianchetta di Alba, Bianchetto, Bianchetto Albese, Bianchetto di Alba, Bianchetto di Verzuolo, Barolo Bianco, and Nebbiollo Bianco.
Parentage of the grape: Unknown. Planted for centuries in Piedmont.
History of the grape: The first records of Arneis plantings in Piedmont go back to the 1400s. Today, many call Arneis the most interesting white grape in Piedmont. But for a long time, little white wine was actually made from it. Instead, it was traditionally used to soften the tannins of the red Nebbiolo (perhaps the real reason it’s nicknamed “Barolo Bianco”) or, worse, to keep the attention of vineyard pests such as birds away from the more profitable red grapes. Finally in the 70s and 80s, great producers such as Ceretto began to make white wines worthy of this fine variety in significant quantity.
Characteristics of the grape: grapefruit, sour apple, white flower; medium acidity. Can be quite substantial in body.
Regions where the grape currently is important: Though found throughout the Langhe, Arneis seems to do best in the sandy soils of Roero.
Type or types of wines the grape produces: the best wines are made without the use of new oak and are consumed in their youth. Roero is the best region for Arneis.
Description 2 of 2
(aka. Nebbiolo Bianco)
Arneis is an ancient grape varietal native to Italy’s Piedmont region. It produces fragrant, white peach and pear scented white wines. A minor grape in California, some of the state's most prolific Ital-centric wineries, including Pepi and Seghesio are now experimenting with Arneis. Ponzi in Oregon has also been successful using Arneis to produce a pleasant fruit forward style of white wine.
At home in Piedmont, Arneis was traditionally blended with the red wine producing Nebbiolo to add perfume and soften the often aggressively tannic structure of this noble grape. However, in a region largely devoid of serious white wine production, Arneis was fortunately saved from complete varietal extinction by an increasing popularity of dry white wines in the 1980s.
Arneis, which translates to 'little rascal', can be a difficult grape in the vineyard. The variety is prone to low acidity when fully ripe. For this reason, in California Arneis seems to perform its best in cooler climate appellations that are reminiscent of the grapes Piedmont home in the foothills of the Italian Alps.
Your most illustrious days are over. A child star of sorts... Arny, you were an original 'little rascal'. A cute kid with a fresh attitude. Your sidekick role was a welcome relief to Nebbiolo's assertive and aggressive performances. Thrust out of the limelight, it has been said your impetuous nature often got the better of you during your maturing years. Don't give up on your dreams. Your good looks have endured, albeit on a rather stout body. Your future on the West Coast will not be in big productions, but you are destined to carve out a niche on cool local stages. – Description from Appellation America (view original content)
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