In Piedmont, the grape’s home region, Arneis means ‘the little rascal’ in the local Piemontese dialect. This is a reference to Arneis’ difficult tendencies in the vineyard, where it is low-yielding, susceptible to powdery mildew and often struggles to achieve good levels of acid.
Until the 1970s, Arneis was used only as a partner to Piedmont’s heavyweight star, Nebbiolo. This is perhaps how it earned the synonyms White Barolo and Nebbiolo Bianco, despite bearing no relation to Nebbiolo. Much like Syrah and Viognier, Nebbiolo and Arneis worked in tandem to soften out Nebbiolo’s tougher side and provide some rich aromatics to the final wine.
Varietal Arneis is known for its lifted aromas of white flowers, almond and pears. On the palate it is medium to full bodied, showing apple, pear and apricot flavors. It may be produced as a dry, passito or lightly sparkling wine.
Synonyms include: Barolo Bianco, White Barolo, Bianchetto, Nebbiolo Bianco.
Food matches include:
Europe: Spaghetti all'aglio e olio (simple pasta dish with garlic and olive oil) with mountain herbs; sardines escabeche
Asia: Satay sotong (grilled squid skewers); soba noodles topped with cucumber
Americas: Waldorf salad
Australasia/Oceania: Snapper sashimi drizzled with grapefruit vinaigrette