Arneis: White Wine with a Past but Little Known as a Grape Today

Nod To The Odd: Arneis

By Holly Bruns

A memory can rest, tucked away, until suddenly, in an instant, something unlocks it. It might be a certain song that brings back the high school gym and that first dance, it may be the scene of a particular vista that triggers thoughts of a time and place long gone, or a particular aroma may work to capture a feeling of the past.

A few years ago, after a long, leisurely lunch, I tried a sip from a bottle of Arneis. At the time it reminded me of an arboreal landscape, pine needles crushed underfoot while a camphorous aroma wafted through the air. In short, it reminded me of childhood memories long forgotten. When I recently spotted a bottle of Arneis in a Vintages release, I had an urge to try it again and to rekindle my memory of the grape.

Arneis is a white grape variety indigenous to Piedmont in northern Italy where it grows in the chalky soils next to the slopes of the ancient Langhe hills. In a region more renowned for its age-worthy reds, Barolo and Barbaresco, Arneis has historically been planted in small lots and used as a blending agent. Recently, it has been in demand as a white wine that stands alone, and has actually been saved from near extinction.

Elio Filippino 2010 Arneis – LCBO  Vintages 60848 – $15.95

Looking for that pine bough aroma of my childhood, I popped the cork on the bottle and with a whiff I was reminded that every bottle of wine is different. With more jasmine and lemon than pine needles, this sip of Arneis was fruity with white peach and apple on the palate. It was more reminiscent of an early spring morning than a walk in the woods. The tartness of the wine would be great with lemon sole, a salad of baby greens, or it would make a great aperitif with just enough body and texture to be pleasing on its own.

Drinking wine has the ability to create memorable experiences, primarily because the olfactory system is closely linked to areas of the brain that process long-term memory and emotion. Who knows where that next bottle of wine will take you.

Holly Bruns is an accredited sommelier with degrees from Algonquin College and the Wine Spirits & Education Trust. She lives in Ottawa and is the drinking force behind the successful blog: Wine Out Loud.



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