Arneis, white wine grape grown in the Piemonte region of north-west Italy. Nearly extinct half a century ago, Arneis has become an iconic white grape thanks to the almost overnight success of Ceretto winery’s Blangé bottling launched in the lat 1980s.
The name | Arneis derives from the ancient name of Renesio di Canale, where a cru site of Arneis, Bric Renesio, can be found.
Other names | Arneis is also informally called Nebbiolo Bianco or the ‘White Nebbiolo’, both sharing similarly erect growth.
Site selection | Arneis thrives on friable soils with layers of sand and chalk as found in the Roero hills, specifically around the townships of Canale, Corneliano d’Alba, Piobesi d’Alba, Vezza d’Alba, Monteu Roero and Castagnito.
In the vineyard | Giampiero Marrone of the Marrone winery in Annunziata told me on 20th May 2017 that ‘Arneis is not an easy grape. Its irregular yields is why Arneis is called a rascal in local dialect. Kober 5BB rootstock helps give more consistent production, as does maintaining soil humus. Arneis must be able to fine moisture to produce a regular-sized crop. With too much direct sunlight Arneis loses acid easily, which explains why it was unsuited to sparkling wine styles historically. There is no need to de-leaf too much.’
Alessandro Conterno told me (at the Castello di Barolo Sunday afternoon 17th July 2016) that ‘global warming is exacerbating the naturally low acidity levels Arneis manifests. This was why small doses of Arneis were used to soften Barbera and Nebbiolo reds.’
Winemaking | Prone to over-ripeness and oxidation.
Wine style | ‘Appley herbal perfume’ says Oz Clarke (2015, p31). Other flavours include white peach, pear, liquorice, almond, white flowers.
See Dr Ian d’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy (University of California Press, 2014).
Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p81.
Oz Clarke, Oz Clarke Wine A-Z (Pavilion, 2015).