2021 Paolo Conterno “A Val” Arneis, Langhe, Italy (Alcohol 14%, Residual Sugar 2 g/l) LCBO $24.95 – July 8th release (750ml bottle)
I often forget just how much I enjoy a glass of well-made Arneis.
First used to make sweet wine, then rising to considerable popularity in the 1980s, it’s only more recently that Arneis has been considered to have thoroughbred potential, as it was for many years thought to be more of a workhorse grape. I find it quite difficult to identify this grape in blind tastings, as it’s one of those grapes that often express terroir more so than varietal characteristics; I find the grape’s typicity extremely mercurial to pin down.
Although many feel that Arneis only really shines in the Roero subregion, home to the DOCG of the same name, on the left side of the Tanaro River in the province of Cuneo, in recent years the quality of many wines labelled simply as Langhe Arneis DOC has improved dramatically. This bottling is the perfect example of this, the grapes being sourced from Roero without carrying the DOCG designation.
The mouthwatering bouquet is one of delicate white flowers, peach, lemon, and pear, with a slight touch of herbal notes. It’s quite understated, but most enjoyable for those seeking out nuanced aromatics in their white wines. It’s as fresh as the proverbial daisy.
After the restrained nose, the palate is surprisingly full and ripe, but there is a wonderful burst of juicy freshness here, with the acid levels pointing to perfect pick-time, as Arneis can be notoriously fickle in the vineyard, switching from underripe to flat and insipid in the blink of an eye. The balance in this wine is absolutely spot-on, the satisfying mouthfeel leading on to a sustained mineral/saline finish.
I do enjoy this wine by itself, but it would work extremely well served alongside shellfish, grilled fish, fish stew, fried calamari, and the classic Fritto Misto, with all that crisp acidity being more than a match for oilier dishes.
This excellent wine will appear in LCBOs around July 8th, so keep a look out for it. Highly recommended.
(Four out of a possible five apples)
Paolo Coterno Wines are represented in Ontario by Icon Vins Fins.
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