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.
Blue Fox Cellars 2015 Nube Bianco Vineyard Arneis (Potter Valley)Mendocino CountyThis medium-bodied wine smells lightly earthy and meaty, and tastes chalky, tight ...See Full Review$25
Ugo Lequio 2017 Arneis (Langhe)PiedmontA fantastic expression of Arneis from the one of the Langhe's top ...See Full ReviewN/A
Campovida 2017 Tavolo Bianco White (Mendocino County)Mendocino CountyThis is a vibrant, dry wine that combines crisp green-apple, fennel bulb ...See Full Review$30
Portalupi 2017 Graziano Vineyard Arneis (Mendocino)Mendocino CountyThis unoaked wine is positively charged with crisp apple and grapefruit flavors, ...See Full Review$28
Marchisio Tenuta Ca' du Russ 2007 Faiv Blanc de Blancs Brut Metodo Classico (Roero)PiedmontMade entirely with Arneis, this fragrant sparkler offers enticing scents of field ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$25
Enotria 2016 Arneis (Mendocino)Mendocino CountyCrisp and lively, this light-bodied wine smells citrusy, tastes tangy and fruity ...Best BuySee Full Review$15
Briceland 2017 Spirit Canyon Vineyard Arneis (Mendocino County)Mendocino CountyRustic and hearty in style, this medium-bodied wine has earthy aromas, strong ...See Full Review$21
Fowles Wine NV Are You Game? Sparkling Sparkling (Victoria)VictoriaAn interesting blend of Vermentino and Arneis, this bubbly has a fruity ...See Full Review$20
Bella Luna 2017 Bella Bianca White (San Benito County)Central CoastReally taut and tangy on the nose, this blend of 50% Tocai ...See Full Review$30
The Williamsburg Winery 2017 Limited Release Arneis (Virginia)VirginiaAromas of chalk, pineapple and orange blossom are faint on the nose. ...See Full Review$28
Idlewild 2017 The Bee Flora and Fauna White (North Coast)North CoastThe Bee is made of 50% of Muscat Canelli, which is blended ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$25
Hudson Vineyards 2017 White Study Estate Grown White (Carneros)Napa-SonomaThis is a blend of 33% Ribolla, 27% Arneis, 22% Friulano and ...See Full Review$36
Ponzi 2015 Dolcetto (Chehalem Mountains)Willamette ValleyThis is the second varietal offering in Ponzi's Italian series, a sibling ...See Full Review$30
Malvirà NV Rive Gauche Metodo Charmat Arneis (Vino Spumante)Italy OtherThis sparkling Arneis has aromas of mature yellow apple skin, acacia and ...See Full ReviewN/A
Helioterra 2016 Redman Vineyard Arneis (Ribbon Ridge)Willamette ValleyJust a handful of Oregon wineries produce this varietal wine, and one ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$18
Briceland 2016 Spirit Canyon Vineyard Arneis (Mendocino County)Mendocino CountyGreat balance and a charming lighter character make this lightly floral wine ...Editors’ ChoiceSee Full Review$21
Bella Luna 2016 Bella Bianca Vista Verde Vineyard White (San Benito County)Central CoastThis is an interesting and very unique bottling of 50% Tocai Friuliano ...See Full Review$30
Enotria 2014 Uvaggio Isabella Arneis (Mendocino County)Mendocino CountyThe floral aromas in this animated wine give way to fragrant fruit ...See Full Review$15
Tenuta Cà du Russ 2007 Faiv Blanc de Blancs Metodo Classico Arneis (Vino Spumante)Italy OtherAromas of ripe orchard fruit, yellow flower, liqueur and nut lead the ...See Full Review$25
Seghesio 2014 Arneis (Russian River Valley)SonomaThe producer continues to give a nod to its Italian roots with ...See Full Review$22
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