Fontanabianca Langhe Arneis 2020
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Type ArneisRead About the Wine
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The wine of Kings and the King of wines is Nebbiolo. But the Italians know a Bianco King of Barolo as well – Arneis. That’s right, the King of red grapes, Nebbiolo, has met its match in a white – Arneis.
Arneis makes wine of powerful body and precision, and one that deserves the title of Bianco King. Our example today opens with aromas of quince, ripe yellow pear, honeydew melon, white flowers, chamomile and beeswax. The palate has weight, but it’s weight from dry extract – the power of the grapes themselves, rather than oak or other winemaker techniques. It has the flavor of fleshy ripe peaches, white apricots, and a touch of strawberry, while remaining completely dry. The finish rounds out with almond, flint and yellow apple.
The little-known Arneis variety is treasured by a few in the Piedmont and rarely seen elsewhere. It does come from Barolo, and was probably used there in the past for providing weight, structure, and aromatics to underripe Nebbiolo grapes. By the 1970s, its production had drifted down to a few scattered acres across the region.
It was then that the Archbishop of Alba stepped in. He was a great admirer of Arneis and loved to use it as sacramental wine. However, his sources were drying up. So he asked two of Barolo’s most famous producers – Giacosa and Vietti – to step in and save the varietal. They promptly did, and Arneis has not only been removed from the endangered species list—it has absolutely blossomed.
One of the places it has flowered most is the territory of Roero, just north of Barolo and across the Alba River. There, the soil type changes to sand, in which Arneis loves to grow, becoming even more expressive. This bottling comes from the Negro family’s Perdaudin single vineyard, which makes what many consider a Grand Cru Arneis.
For you lovers of big and bold Nebbiolo, Arneis is a refreshing counterpoint that fits all of Piedmont’s summer cuisine – squash blossoms stuffed with mozzarella and deep fried; sage and pork ravioli in browned butter, seared tuna with baby basil and tomato concasse.
Here is a magical summer food-pairing partner, a scrumptious cocktail, and an amazing contemplation wine – truly a Wine of Kings. We were allocated just a little; don’t miss it.