We are always trying wines, white or red, that will match well with lighter meals of salad and fresh fish. We have several “go-to” wines from Italy, including Arneis, a white Italian grape from Piedmont, Italy. There are a number of growing regions for this special grape, most commonly found in the hills of the Roero, northwest of Alba, where it is part of the white Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) wines of Roero. We’ve also had wines from Langhe made from Arneis, which are also delightful.
Arneis means little rascal in the local Piedmontese dialect, because it is indeed a problem child to cultivate. It’s not so surprising to find that there are only a few handfuls of dedicated growers and producers of Arneis, but they are generally worthy of finding. The Arneis wines are crisp and light in color, but with a full body. The nose is typically floral with hints of mineral and lemon or lime. The taste is pronounced pear and apricot, sometimes with hints of melon, particularly cantaloupe and honeydew.
We’ve listed the Arneis wines as great bargain whites, with most coming under $20, but there are a few which range a bit higher. Here are some of our suggestions:
- Cantine Ascheri Bra – Langhe. Price: $15-$19. This gem tastes from peach, passion fruit, and citrus. It has a long mouth finish. This is a perfect match with salad having a fruit component.
- Malvira – Roero. Price: $22-$28. This is a very elegant wine, having a perfect balance of acid, with peach, apple, and grapefruit flavors.
- Arneis Meriggiare Ca du Rabaja – Langhe. Price: $16-$18. This beauty has an intense nose with notes of lilac, pear, melon and apricot, with similar flavors. There is a tropical hint to this wine, with tangerine flavors on the initial sip. On the midpalate, the wine is surprisingly dry.
- Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis. Price: $32-$36. This wine is more subtle than the others, with stronger citrus flavors and less stone fruit on the front palate. This wine matches perfectly with mild fish (flounder, sole). Although you most likely won’t find the 2013, the more recent vintages are pretty close in quality.
- Marchesi Incisa Della Rocchetta – Roero. Price: $17 – $19.This wine expresses primary melon flavors, with peach and citrus notes. This is a very refreshing wine, and works well with shellfish.