A Brace of Arneis

Arneis and I didn’t see eye to eye the first time we met. It was during a weekend for SYners (pronounced “swiners”; looks like “swingers” but it ain’t like that), a four-couple wine-geek group founded in South Yarra back when we were reckless and childless. The opening night’s theme was Minority Grapes. Someone brought along an intensely floral Arneis where the fruit was hard to find beneath the petals and bitter kernel character. We probably just weren’t ready for it.

I’ve since developed a soft spot for the variety, whose home is Piedmont, northwest Italy. Apparently it’s a tough sell here in Australia, where it’s most notably grown in Victoria’s King Valley. Some think it’s the ‘hard-to-pronounce’ name (really? ar-NACE will get the message across) but it might just be – as it was for me – a question of naivety.

Here are a couple I had the pleasure of tasting at an evening for friends, hosted by Simon Dal Zotto of DOC Wines, whose family produced one of the two examples.

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Matteo Correggia Roero Arneis 2012 Roero Arneis DOCG, Italy

Clear, bright pale lemon in colour, with white flowers, ripe pear stone fruits on the nose. It’s dry, just more than medium bodied, a little unctuous. The palate displays green apple, lemon zest and stone fruits with at touch of ginger and almond, with a pleasant, slightly bitter finish. It’s nice and fresh, especially given the grape’s relatively low acidity, and opens up quite a bit after some time in the glass. Good with food.

Price: $25 at Prince Wine Store – Alcohol: 13% – Tasting date: 14/10/13

Dal Zotto Arneis 2009 King Valley, Australia

Clear medium lemon in colour with quite a pronounced nose of ripe peach, pear and citrus. The rich, juicy palate has stone fruits, lime, pear and melon, with some peach-kernel bitterness and spice. It may be the age difference, but this was rounder than the Matteo Correggia, with good length and a slightly sweeter finish. A pretty, generous wine.

Price: Current release (2011) is $27 direct from Dal Zotto – Alcohol: 12.5% – Tasting date: 14/10/13

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