2022 I. Brand & Family Winery, Arneis, Vista Verde Vineyard, San Benito County.
The Arneis, which debuted in Ian Brand’s lineup in 2020, is a lighter bodied white wine that has added some excitement to the collection here and this 2022 is a beauty, with a similar personality to the prior releases, showing lemon/lime and melon fruit along with orange blossom, white licorice/fennel and light leesy almond note, adding some stone fruit fleshiness. The Arneis joins Brand’s lovely Melon de Bourgogne and his “Ramato” style skin contact Pinot Gris as a fun alternative white, more interesting than basic Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay offerings and is a great Summer wine. Typically Brand’s whites are fermented in stainless steel and aged between 6 to 8 months on the lees in neutral French oak barrels to promote fresh details and to let the varietal to present itself without distractions of newer wood and this Arneis thrives because of that lesser is more winemaking technique. As noted in my prior reviews, the Ian Brand Arneis, a pale straw/yellow hued wine, finishes smooth and lingering, but with a dry phenolic vitality, wonderful with soft cheeses and or white fish dishes, making it perfect for beach days and or picnics, as well as a great starter wine with any causal meal. Arneis, acnastive of Piedmonte, Italy, is known to be difficult to grow, with low acidity it needs to be picked at exactly the right time, and is susceptible to mildew, which is probably why it has its little rascal name, though it can be awesome, especially by the likes of Vietti, Ceretto and Bruno Giacosa.

The Vista Verde Vineyard, in the San Benito County, is most famous for supplying William Selyem with Pinot Noir for their Central Coast bottling and is set on gravel and pebbles, laced with calcium, it sees a cooling influence thanks to inflow breezes off the Pacific Ocean, allowing for a lengthy growing season, making for ripe and balanced grapes. Brand’s version, which is a pale straw/yellow finishes smooth and lingering, but with dry phenolic vitality, wonderful with soft cheeses and or white fish dishes, this wine and his Melon de Bourgogne are taking his white wines to the next level, both equally delicious and exciting. A rarity in California, the Arneis grape, which dates back most likely to the 14th century is first recorded by name in 1877, it’s name in local dialect means little rascal, has also been called Nebbiolo Bianco, though it has no genetic relationship to the notable Piedmontese red wine, but the two grapes do share a close historic relationship. It has been noted, that for centuries, Arneis was blended into Nebbiolo wines, being used to soften the tannins and harshness of powerful Nebbiolo grape, most historically in the wines of the Barolo region, before the practice was banned for the DOCG wines that must be 100% Nebbiolo. Arneis was often inter-planted in the Barolo vineyards to lure the birds away from the Nebbiolo, as it has a much sweeter scent than Nebbiolo, but now Arneis stars as a solo varietal wine, especially those that are found in the Roero DOC zone, not too far away from Barolo. These new small lot releases from Ian Brand continue to impress and offer a lot of value, I, in particular, recommend Ian’s set of signature Cab Franc(s), Cabernet Sauvignon(s), Grenache(s) and his Paysan Rosé.
($32 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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