2021 Damilano, Langhe Arneis, Piedmonte, Italy.
The bright, fresh and crisply dry Langhe Arneis from Damilano is a tasty little white wine to enjoy over the next year or so with a light palate of lemon/lime, tart unripe peach, melon along with mineral tones, saline stony notes and zesty herbs. Arneis, almost lost durning the 1970s has had a renaissance and acreage has increased as its popularity grew and has now gained a reputation of quality, making for an interesting and unique white wine that can compare with Gruner Veltliner for cool on wine lists. Dry and with good mineral character Arneis is more fun than rather basic New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs and or mass produced Pinot Grigios. Damilano is a historic name in the Barolo area dating back to 1890, when Giuseppe Borgogno started cultivating grapes making wine, and carries with it more than 100 years of winemaking here, obviously most notably Nebbiolo and their Barolo cru bottlings. These Damilano crus include Cannubi, Brunate, Cerequio and Liste, all of which produce spectacular and singular wines, each having tons of individual charms. Current winemakers Guido Damilano and Alessandro Bonelli at Damilano are doing some very attractive wines and deserve the praise they are getting these days. The 100% stainless fermented and aged Damilano Arneis is sourced from vines in Roero, on the left bank of the Tanaro river between Langhe and Monferrato with deep sandy soils, with clay and limestone beneath that adds subtle complexity and aromatics.
Arneis saw a re-birth from almost extinction thanks to Vietti and Giacosa, the famous Barolo producers that saved this varietal in the Piedmonte region, where it is mostly planted, though America vintners have some to play with now in California where it has a tiny but faithful following. The first mention of Arneis in modern times dates back to 1877 when the grape adopted its current name, though it is widely believed to have been in Piedmonte since the 1400s using various names, in the last few hundred years it has mainly flourished in the Roero area, along with interplanting in Barolo. Even though Arneis has no genetic relationship to Nebbiolo, the two grapes have a intertwined historic relationship and it is well noted that for centuries Arneis grape was used to soften the tannins and harshness of Nebbiolo, in Barolo. So Arneis was sometimes called Nebbiolo Bianco and some growers planted a little bit of Arneis with Nebbiolo in a field blend hoping the sweet scent of ripe Arneis berries would attract the birds away from the more prized Nebbiolo clusters! Damilano’s Arneis is not maybe the most expressive or impactful version, but it is a good easy drinker and a great alternative to many generic whites out there and I recommend it for causal occasions and picnics. I have really enjoyed all of the Damilano wines I’ve tried from their mentioned Cru Barolo to this refreshing, slightly tropical, Arneis and I can easily see myself enjoying this Arneis with no pretense with friends this Summer and I will certainly be checking out their latest Barolo offerings too!
($24 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive