Arneis is a white grape variety from the northern portion of Italy in the Piedmont region. This is the same place you would find wines like Barolo and Barbaresco. It is most commonly found around the hills in the Roero where it also has a DOCG status. Arneis is a difficult grape to cultivate, which nearly led to its extinction about 50 years ago. Thanks to the efforts of Alfredo Currado, Arneis is now not just grown in Roero but also in similar climates around the world. It’s finickiness also is probably where it got its name meaning ‘troublemaker’ or ‘little rascal’ in local dialects. Arneis also occasionally goes by the name of Barolo Blanco because it is grown across the Tanaro River from Barolo.
This week I paired a 2018 Livia Fontana Arneis with caesar salad and chicken broccoli alfredo. Arneis is a fascinating wine because it has a fuller body than most white wines while still maintaining a great level of acidity. It is a medium yellow with watery legs. The nose consists of honeysuckle, gardenia, meyer lemon pith, pears and green apple but the aromas don’t jump out of the glass readily. On the palate, the acidity of this dry wine is apparent from the increased salivation it coaxed from the taste buds.The initial flavor of fresh pineapple was unavoidable but it mellowed and gave way to white peaches and green apple. I was surprised at how the body of the wine met the lightness of the salad but also that of the alfredo. The floral and fruit notes were wonderful accompaniments with the lettuce as well as the cheese sauce. I selected a caesar dressing I knew would have an obvious anchovy flavor. The wine’s acid and flavor profile were a fantastic pair. I found this bottle to be fascinating and unique. It was another fantastic example of why I love trying these unusual wine varieties. This brings my count to 172!