GOTN Discovers Italy With ArneIs & Vermentino

Grape of the Night (GOTN) met at the Valencia Wine Company on March 02, 2015 to bring and discuss Arneis and Vermentino.  Weather and illnesses led to a smaller than usual group for this meeting but the enthusiastic attendees and fine wines definitely made it exciting.  The Arnesis and Vermentino samples brought were all from Italy though all countries and regions were acceptable for this evening.  

Wines sampled:

  • 2012 Maurosebaste Roero Arneis

  • 2013 Donna Anita Roero Arneis

  • 2010 Pepi Lignana Leopoldino Vermentino

  • 2011 Capichera Vermentino

Arneis is a white varietal that was saved from extinction by Alfredo Currado from the Vetti Wine family.  It is primarily grown in the Roero region of Piedmont Italy where the Nebbiolo vines are also grown.  The cause of the near extinction was the result of the more sought after Nebbiolo and Barolo red wines  which were more highly sought after than the Arneis.  Consumer demand made Arneis non profitable which lead to a decrease in growing this varietal by vineyard.  An interesting fact about Arneis vines is that they are planted in vineyards with Nebbiolo vines as an indicator of bird or insect problems.  The Arnesis grape skins are softer and the grapes less tannic and more tasty to birds and insects than the Nebbiolo grapes.  This allows the vineyard time to react and protect their choice grapes if they notice the Arnesis grapes are being eaten.  Arneis in Piedmontese means "little rascal" due to the difficulty of growing this grape for wine production.  It is a wine that does not age well and should drink when young (1-3 years).

The other varietal that we sampled was Vermentino.  My good friend George Skorka spoke about this unique Italian varietal providing a lot of history and details.  Vermentino is grown around the Mediterranean from Spain to Italy and is most prominent from the island of Sardinia and the island of Corsica.  In France Vermentino is called Rolle and is grown primarily in Cotes de Provence.  Since all of our samples were from Italy, we will concentrate on them.  Vermentino was originally planted on the northern peninsula of Gallura where they are labeled Vermintino di Gallura DGOC.  George tested the group by asking what the acronyms DOC and DGOC means.  

Answers:

  • DOC or Denominazione di Origine Controllata - controlled designation of origin.  DOC is on many Italian wines.  These wines are governed by laws that control where the grapes are grown, varietals and wine style.

  • DOCG or Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita - controlled designation of origin guaranteed.  DOCG is the highest classification with the most stringent requirements.  To carry this label there are strict rules governing grape varieties, yield, ripeness, vinification process and maturation in both barrel and bottle.

Even with the bad weather and unfortunate illnesses that struck many of our regular attendees, I found these varietals to be very unique.  The crisp beautiful flavors can serve many different occasions ranging from sitting in front of a fireplace or with a beautiful dinner consisting of seafood.  Give them a try, you will not be disappointed.

Thank you to George Skorka for always sharing his knowledge at our GOTN events.  I also want to thank Valencia Wine Company for hosting us, and how how could I forget our lovely hostess, Jennifer Tremayne.

Cheers,

Rusty Sly