Arneis is a white wine grape variety most associated with Piedmont in northwest Italy. The name Arneis translates to “little rascal” in the local dialect, a fitting moniker given the grape’s trickiness in the vineyard. Arneis is highly susceptible to powdery mildew, is very low-yielding and can struggle to retain acidity. It also tends to become overly ripe if harvested late. Its wines are especially prone to oxidation.
Single varietal Arneis wines are popular today, though the grape was historically blended with the Nebbiolo grape in the Barolo region. Arneis had a softening effect on the famously tannic and austere Nebbiolo. Some winegrowers planted Arneis alongside Nebbiolo in the vineyard as a means of protection: The aromatics of the Arneis grape attracted the attention of birds and bees away from the more prestigious Nebbiolo.
Arneis originated in Roero, a subregion of Piedmont located along the left bank of the River Tanaro, across from Langhe. Roero became a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) region in 1985 and was upgraded to Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) in 2005. Having fallen out of favor with producers in the early 1970s, Arneis underwent something of a renaissance in the 1980s and has gone from strength to strength ever since.
The best expressions of Arneis surely come from its home region. Here, the Arneis grape is used to produce a single varietal white wine labelled as Roero Arneis. Small amounts of Arneis are sometimes blended as part of the region’s Nebbiolo-based red wines.
White Arneis from the Roero DOCG typically shows a pale golden color, floral aromas and a medium to full body, with flavors of pear, apricot, tangerine, hazelnut and almond. Most of these wines are unoaked, vinified in stainless steel vats. Some producers ferment or age their Arneis wines in oak, leading to fuller-bodied wines with creamier flavors.
Oaked Arneis may lack the crispness and floral aromatics of unoaked examples. There are oaked and unoaked styles produced, with the former showing a fuller body and creamier flavors, and the latter lighter in body and with more pronounced floral aromas.
A small amount of sweet wine is produced, known as Arneis Passito. Arneis goes by many synonyms, including Bianchetta, Bianchetta di Alba, Bianchetto, Bianchetto di Alba and Nebbiolo Bianco.
While its stronghold is in Piedmont, Arneis is also grown in Liguria and Sardinia. Outside of Italy, some Arneis is grown in the U.S., notably in California’s Sonoma County and Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Other new world regions producing Arneis include Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales in Australia and Gisbourne, New Zealand. The nearby region of Langhe DOC also produces Arneis wines.
Now that you know a little bit about this grape variety, why not take a taste? Search through our online Buying Guide below to find Arneis wines reviewed by our professional tasters.
Marco Lucchesi 2020 Il Bianco White (Santa Ynez Valley)Central CoastBaked apple, lemon syrup and light cinnamon aromas show on the riper ...See Full Review$36
Cornarea 2020 Roero ArneisPiedmontAromas of hay, acacia and white stone fruit emerge from the glass. ...See Full Review$24
Francone 2021 Magia (Roero Arneis)PiedmontLightly scented, this has delicate aromas recalling wild herbs, hay and orchard ...See Full Review$25
Monchiero Carbone 2018 Renesio Incisa Riserva (Roero Arneis)PiedmontVinified and aged partly in amphora, this has delicate aromas suggesting Spanish ...See Full Review$42
Europa Village 2018 Vienza Arneis (Temecula Valley)South CoastHoney-colored in the glass, this bottling begins with orange-blossom cream and mango ...See Full Review$39
Section Wines 2020 Tierra Alta Vineyards Arneis (Ballard Canyon)Central CoastItalian Winemaker Marco Lucchesi is working hard to make this grape work ...See Full Review$32
Portalupi 2020 Graziano Vineyard Arneis (Mendocino)Mendocino CountyAlmond and apricot flavors, rather full body and a slight, grippy bitterness ...See Full Review$28
Bella Luna 2020 Bella Bianca Vista Verde Vineyard White (San Benito)Central CoastTart Meyer lemon aromas meet with an earthy, beach accent on the ...See Full Review$30
Graziano NV Saint Gregory Brut Scandalous Cuvée #12 Sparkling (Potter Valley)Mendocino CountyTangy Pippin apple and lemon flavors light up this dry, well-balanced and ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$40
McClain Cellars 2018 Opportunity White (Santa Ynez Valley)Central CoastLight melon, nectarine and lemon spritz aromas show on the slightly earthy ...See Full Review$36
McClain Cellars 2018 Summer Breeze White (Santa Ynez Valley)Central CoastHoney-glazed cashew, light lemon and cantaloupe aromas kick off the nose on ...See Full Review$32
Careglio 2016 Savij (Roero Arneis)PiedmontFloral aromas of hawthorn mingle with ripe white stone fruit, citrus and ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$28
Cornarea 2019 Roero ArneisPiedmontWild herb, mountain hay, chamomile and stone fruit aromas slowly take shape ...See Full Review$24
Chiesa 2018 Quin (Roero Arneis)PiedmontFermented with wild yeasts, this has warm, inviting aromas of freshly made ...See Full Review$27
Deltetto 2020 Daivej (Roero Arneis)PiedmontThis has delicate scents evoking yellow spring flowers and beeswax. Made with ...Best BuySee Full Review$15
Cornarea 2015 Enritard (Roero Arneis)PiedmontMade and aged for two years in steel, this mature but still ...See Full Review$29
Chiesa 2019 Roero ArneisPiedmontFermented with indigenous yeasts, this opens with aromas of Spanish broom, lychee, ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$20
Generaj 2019 Bric Varomaldo (Roero Arneis)PiedmontAromas of ripe yellow stone fruit, eucalyptus and honey form the nose. ...See Full Review$19
Lorenzo Negro 2019 Sant'Anna Riserva (Roero Arneis)PiedmontThe rather restrained but inviting nose reveals whiffs of lime, cedar and ...See Full Review$30
Lorenzo Negro 2019 Roero ArneisPiedmontAromas of dried botanical herbs, white spring flowers and stone fruits shape ...See Full Review$20
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