Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bruno Giacosa strikes again.

 Once again, Casa Vinicola Bruno Giacosa (the negociant end of the Giacosa wines) is topping my lists of Roero Arneis that I've had this year with their 2011 bottling. So that basically means it has beaten two other arneis that I've had this year.

If any one is familiar with either the words Roero or Arneis, more often than not it's for the red grape of Roero - nebbiolo. Roero is due north of the Barolo d.o.c.g., and is considered a lesser source for serious nebbiolo, but it is home to many a great value nebbiolo (for example, Matteo Correggia's.)

The other grape local to Roero is arneis. This white grape was more widely cultivated in the Langhe before the 20th century, to the extent that is was referred to as "White Barolo." Which, I'm assuming, was nothing like white zinfandel. As Barolo transitioned into focusing on Nebbiolo, arneis grew to be forgotten and almost reached extinction.

Thankfully, interest in arneis was reinvigorated and currently there are over 600ha planted in the Piedmont. The flavors tend to be of almonds and/or riper fruits like apricots, peaches, sometimes straight apple (distinctly more red than green,) and the aromatics usually cover the same range.

The advantage I've found to arneis is that unlike many other Italian whites, the acidity is slightly lower and the fruit flavors are slightly riper. There's an impression of sweetness without the wine being sweet. So even though I had just finished eating spicy fried lamb from Yi Palace in Newark, DE just before the bottle was opened to taste, the wine did not clash with the lingering chili and garlic spiciness.

So this is an arneis that I would certainly recommend trying, but if the price (about $30) or availability become an issue Valdinera and Matteo Corregia again would be worth seeking out.

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