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Mentions of the white grape variety Arneis go back to the 15th century. A long history is no guarantee of survival, however. Low in acidity, for many years this variety was known only to connoisseurs. It owes its revival to a resurgence of interest in Piedmontese white wines. After studying Arneis more closely, winemakers came to appreciate its charms. Its name means “little rascal” in the local Piedmontese dialect.

The Arneis grape variety: origins steeped in history

Originally named Renesium then Ornesio, this grape variety has been known and widely planted in Italy since the 15th century. It was chiefly used as a blending wine to soften the hard tannins in Nebbiolo and in Barolo, which is why the variety also goes by the name of “Barolo bianco”. For many centuries it was only grown in Piedmont which is also home to top Barolo wines. During the 20th century, winemakers went over to making Barolo solely from Nebbiolo grapes. The Arneis variety then virtually disappeared until being rediscovered in the 1990s.

Arneis wine: mild and exotic

In Italy the Arneis grape variety is grown mainly in the Piedmont region. Langhe and Roero are DOC regions. Outside Italy, limited plantings can be found in Australia, California and New Zealand.
A winemaker requires a lot of experience to cultivate and vinify Arneis grapes as it is not an easy variety to grow. Wines made from Arneis have low acidity and oxidize easily. The slim vines are prone to mildew and yields tend to be low. However, those willing to invest some effort in understanding this grape will be rewarded with a wine with low acidity, guaranteeing a well-rounded flavour. Among its fans, the “white Barolo” is known for its exotic fruit aroma. With a consistently high alcohol content, the flavour of Arneis wines is characterized by fruity, honey and herbal notes with a peppery finish.

Arneis wines at Coop